Grand Jury Rejects Prosecutor's Charges, Clears Officer In Arrestee's Death

Andrew Kearse died of cardiac arrhythmia after fleeing from Schenectady police.

Schenectady, NY – A Schenectady police officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2017 death of Andrew Kearse, who suffered cardiac arrhythmia in the back of a patrol vehicle after fleeing from police.

Kearse, a 36-year-old father of nine, was on parole on May 11, 2017, when he fled from a police sergeant during a traffic stop, the Albany Times Union reported.

After a half-mile pursuit, Kearse stopped at a friend’s residence, where he was located by the sergeant.

When the sergeant pulled up at the home, Kearse initially told him he had not been driving the vehicle involved in the pursuit.

The sergeant told Kearse to remain where he was while he went to look at his dashcam from the chase, at which point the suspect fled into his friend’s house.

Officers chased Kearse through the backyard and across several other properties before he was apprehended.

During his arrest, he fought with the officers until he was ultimately secured in handcuffs, then refused to stand up or walk.

Kearse told the officers, including Schenectady Officer Mark Weekes, that he needed to breathe and was unable to walk, so they carried him to Officer Weekes’ patrol vehicle.

"You can't outrun the police, man. We're too fast for you," Officer Weekes told Kearse as they drove back to Kearse’s friend’s home, according to the Albany Times Union.

When they arrived, Officer Weekes spoke with other officers at the scene for approximately seven minutes.

During that time, Kearse yelled out to the officers 17 times, and told them he couldn’t breathe and to roll down the window.

Officer Weekes opened the driver’s door three times, but refused to roll down a window in the air-conditioned car.

“Is it hot? Probably shouldn’t run next time,” he told Kearse. “Slow down your breathing. Take deep breaths. You’ll be fine.”

Officer Weekes, a 10-year veteran of the force, is also an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan and participated in over 300 combat missions.

During the investigation, he explained that through his training, he learned that “if someone can speak, they can breathe,” Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in her report, according to the Albany Times Union.

The officer said he suspected that Kearse’s request to open the window was nothing more than a ruse for him to make another escape attempt.

As Officer Weekes drove Kearse to the police station, Kearse continued to yell out that he was dizzy and couldn’t breathe, and eventually slumped into the seat.

When the patrol vehicle reached the station, Kearse was unresponsive and officers removed him from the car and placed him on the sidewalk.

They began administering CPR, and used a defibrillator in an unsuccessful attempt to resuscitate him.

He was subsequently rushed to Ellis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:47 p.m.

Kearse’s cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrhythmia.

Connecticut cardiologist Stuart Zarich said the instance was a “very unusual case of sudden cardiac death,” and that without the proper tools, “even he would not have recognized from observation alone that Mr. Kearse required advanced cardiac life support measures,” Underwood’s report read, according to the Albany Times Union.

On Friday, Underwood announced that the grand jury declined to file charges against Officer Weekes, despite the urging from her office, The Daily Gazette reported.

"After an exhaustive investigation…we concluded that there was sufficient evidence that a crime had been committed to warrant a presentation to a grand jury," Underwood said. "The grand jury, however, declined charges. We are prohibited by law from discussing what occurred in the grand jury."

"Regardless of the grand jury’s decision, Mr. Kearse’s death was a tragedy that never should have happened, and reforms must be made to prevent similar future tragedies," she continued. "To that end, we are urging crucial reforms to how police departments across the state handle medical emergencies."

Underwood then recommended that the state Legislature "immediately act to ensure a uniform statewide policy" to require law enforcement officers to treat purported breathing difficulties as medical emergencies.

"I want to be clear: A complaint about breathing difficulties should not be dismissed because the arrestee is able to talk," she said.

Underwood said that her “heart is with” Kearse’s family, and called his death “a terrible tragedy.”

"This should serve as a clarion call for the Legislature and police departments across the state to make systemic reforms to how medical emergencies like this are handled – so that no other family has to experience what Mr. Kearse’s has gone through,” she said.

Officer Weekes voluntarily went onto unpaid leave during the summer after it was announced that the case would go before the grand jury, his attorney, Andrew Sanfranko told The Daily Gazette.

"My general thoughts are obviously that we are very happy with the result of the grand jury,” Sanfranko said. “They fully and completely exonerated Officer Weekes of any wrongdoing.”

“[The grand jury] supported the complete, thorough and independent investigation performed by the New York State Police, which concurred the same thing: Officer Weekes did not commit any crime,” he said.

Kearse’s family has filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the Albany Times Union reported.

Comments (40)
No. 1-15
CRETE GARY
CRETE GARY

Of course SUE.Whats new

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Should be an interesting civil suit.

jinx73
jinx73

criminals=don't run from police,this idiot did this to himself,sue for 25mil.?? 9 kids i'm sure they get plenty of government (taxpayer)money already.hope they lose libel suit.

Pbmfire
Pbmfire

It always come down to the $$$$$$$$’s in a civil suit. That’s when and how much Black Lives Matter. Shameful

Rcrymes
Rcrymes

Tired of these frivolous lawsuits. These leaches on society are a drain on our resources.

Just-My-Thoughts
Just-My-Thoughts

9 kids, out on bail. I'm sure we know who supported those 9 kids. if the family gets a windfall with the ghetto lottery, it needs to be put in the kids name with welfare benefits taken out for how ever many years they've been receiving it,

Dr Shoe
Dr Shoe

Here's a "systematic reform" for you; DON'T RUN FROM THE POLICE!

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

Even the cardiologist said the instance was a “very unusual case of sudden cardiac death,” and that without the proper tools, “even he would not have recognized from observation alone that Mr. Kearse required advanced cardiac life support measures,”

That should have told the persecutor <prosecutor for the grammar police> that it wasn't the fault of the Officer, but a clear result of the suspect RUNNING from the police.

Even the grand jury saw this salient point and did their job properly by refusing the charges .

That apparently liberal prosecutor is trying to make a name for themselves....personally I'd say that name is "traitor". They deserve to be removed from office .

TangoTango
TangoTango

Just another case of the criminal being given more rights than those who obey the law!!! The family lawsuit SHOULD BE THROWN OUT based on the fact if he hadn’t run from the Police in the first place, he would still be alive today!!! He chose to break the law! He chose to run from the Police!!! The doctor even said he would have been unable to diagnose a cardiac condition!!! THROW OUT ANY LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY ASAP!!!!

Shastabeau
Shastabeau

Pretty damned simple, dont run from the police! High speed vehicle pursuit, ran 1/2 mile to his friends house, ran again from the house till he was caught. All could have been avoided and the guy would still be alive! Demonizing the police for sh#t that never should have happened!

61mouse
61mouse

People seem to forget why the officer was there to begin with. It's because the POS broke the law

61mouse
61mouse

Maybe it's from making 9 kids that the TAXPAYERS of NY take care

spd522
spd522

Underwood is the same liberal sloth that brought a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation because like every other Democrat, hates Trump.

GForce48
GForce48

Liberal attorney making excuses for a degenerate and attacking law enforcement. The clown was responsible for his situation/death! Very often people in police custody "claim to have trouble breathing"!