NEWS10 has learned the Schenectady cop, involved in that strange weekend car crash and assault, is now getting paid to stay home while it is investigated. And police are now looking into an incident in his past as well.
Off-duty Schenectady Police Officer Darren Lawrence, who has been placed on paid administrative leave, and another man were in a car that crashed early Saturday on the Northway.
Sources tell NEWS10 that after the crash, the two men fought over whether to alert police.
Colonie Police say alcohol was involved, but because it is such a complicated case, it is not clear if it caused the crash, or who was the assaultee or the assaulter.
NEWS10 has learned that even before the bizarre weekend crash along the Northway, Officer Lawrence already was being investigated by internal affairs.
Law enforcement sources say Lawrence and another cop got into a scuffle at Katie O'Byrne's. Police brass would not identify the officers, but the department's spokesman told NEWS10, “yes, there is a departmental investigation, into an incident involving two officers inside that restaurant.”
Then, early Saturday morning, the strange crash on the Northway happened.
Colonie Police Chief Steve Heider says, “I think it's safe to say that alcohol was a factor involving both of the occupants of this vehicle.”
But Chief Heider says there are still many, many questions about the car, that hit a guardrail at 60 miles an hour, in the middle of the night, sending it airborne and landing in a water-filled ditch.
Sources tell us that Officer Darren Lawrence was in the car, along with Mark Viscusi, Jr. – the brother of the cop's girlfriend.
There was no answer at Viscusi's Rotterdam home Wednesday, but his father tells NEWS10's John McLoughlin, who broke this story, that his son suffered a broken back, probably from the accident – and other injuries, when he says Officer Lawrence beat up his son because young Viscusi wanted to notify cops.
The father told McLoughlin, quote, “he (Lawrence) is a good guy, but he gets into trouble when he drinks.”
Chief Heider says Officer Lawrence told Colonie Police they can speak with him, but only with his lawyer present. That meeting has not yet been arranged.
McLoughlin asked the chief, “the fact that it's a police officer involved, does that make it more difficult for you?”
The chief said, “we have arrested police officers before, we have arrested higher-ups in state and federal government, and we don't care who the person is.”
Now, if Officer Lawrence was driving – and police say they cannot prove that yet – he could be charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, a misdemeanor. And if he did assault his girlfriend's brother – and police cannot prove that, either – he could be charged with felony assault.
Sources close to the case say there is a good possibility that no arrests will ever be made.
NEWS10 will continue to stay on top of this story, and bring you the latest developments.