Internal investigation at APD - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Internal investigation at APD

December 8, 2006

Albany - A terrifying shopping trip for two Albany women. As they waited outside for a popular store to open, they found themselves staring down the barrel of a police officer's gun.

Tonight, two officers are re-assigned and under investigation. The early bird gets the worm and the best deals on store sales. That's what shoppers were hoping to do at Tuesday Morning earlier this week. Instead, they found themselves at gunpoint by two Albany police officers. "Ms. Garrett was waiting for an early morning sale."

Tawana Garrett and a child were sitting inside her car outside the Tuesday Morning store around 6:15 AM Tuesday. Police saw them parked, and a man walking around in the store.

Chief James Younger says, "On the outside, they noticed a vehicle. I believe it was a truck occupied by our subject. They couldn't Identify who the subject was because at that time the person had on a hood, scarf, and the person in the vehicle kept looking back toward the store."

The officers apparently thought the person in the truck and man in the store may have been involved in a burglary. The store manager at Tuesday Morning can't comment, he says it would violate store policy. But here's what we know from police reports, a truck was parked in this area backed up to the store, that's when police approached and pulled their guns.

Garrett told the officers she was just waiting on the store to open at 7 AM for an early sale. The man police saw walking around inside the store was the manager, not a burglary accomplice.  Younger says, "They apologized to Ms. Garrett and reported to their supervisor."

That's when an internal investigation began to see if the actions taken by officers Duane Higginbotham and Yvette Miller were justified. "What really concerns me," says Younger, "and what we're looking into is the fact that the officers were alleged to have drawn their weapons as they approached the suspicious person in the car."

But Chief James Younger stops short of saying they acted inappropriately. "Any time officers display a show of force in terms of displaying firearms, that significant and that's something we look into."

Both officers have been assigned to administrative duties and taken off of patrol. Younger says he has not reviewed their personnel files, but isn't aware of any problems the two officers have had before.

Reporter Karen Cohilas asked Younger, "If it's found that these officers did in fact act inappropriately, what action will be taken?"

He said, "It depends on the exact facts that we find out, but certainly appropriate corrective or disciplinary action will be taken." And Younger says if they lack proper training, he will see to it that they, as well as other officers are better prepared for situations like this.

Officer Higgenbotham has been with APD for six years. Officer Miller has been on the force less than a year.

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