NYSP taking over alleged domestic violence case involving Cohoes mayor

COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It all started with this Times Union article revealing that Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse’s wife had called 911 over an alleged domestic incident at his home, as well as a possible conflict of interest with the mayor’s acting police chief who said the report was unfounded.

A Law enforcement source confirmed to NEWS10 ABC that on Friday around 7:45 a.m. Rensselaer County 911 dispatch relayed a call to Albany County. That a female caller who had identified herself as Brenda Morse told the dispatcher that her husband “the Mayor of Cohoes” had “grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground.”

Because the chief is on sick leave, the assistant chief is in charge. He says that no one was injured in the incident and the whole thing was unfounded.

Since the story broke, Morse has been hard to find.

He was not at his office, nor at the Convention of Mayors in Albany where his name was on the list, but he wasn’t there.

NEWS10 ABC’S Anya Tucker did reach him on his cellphone.

Morse didn’t want to conduct an interview in person or over the phone. He did not go into the details of Friday morning only to say that he and his wife were going through a tough time involving their 15-year-old daughter.

The Cohoes Police Department announced on Monday that it is transferring the case to New York State Police, who have agreed to take it.

Morse is not facing any charges involving the incident at his home. The mayor took to Facebook to defend himself after last week’s incident saying, “All of you who know me know I love this community and work tirelessly to help all people. I love my wife and my children and would never hurt them in any way.”

He closed with this startling sentence, “If you believe I’m unfit to be your mayor over this, I will resign.”

Mayor Morse’s wife Brenda has not spoken out publicly but did post a Facebook comment saying, “Shawn, I know you love us, and you work 24/7 to provide for us…”

There is no charter in the city for the council to remove a mayor.

Under the Cohoes’ City Charter, the mayor is the commissioner of public safety, making him the defacto head of the police department.

“I think it’s only appropriate that an outside law enforcement agency come in,” City Councilman Randy Koniowka said.

The assistant police chief says the decision to have the case transferred to New York State Police is out of the need for transparency.

Mayor Morse issued this statement about the incident on Tuesday:

“Despite a call to respect my family’s privacy during this difficult, challenging ordeal as we handle – as a family – a personal situation with our child, the media reports continue to change and promote falsehoods in spite of the facts. For my family to have to go through this situation as publicly as it unfortunately has is true tragedy of this.

None of this, however, has or will distract my work as Mayor of Cohoes. Our city has tremendous potential and I ran on a campaign to build upon our city’s assets, invigorate downtown, increase opportunities, and for us to be Cohoes proud.

Out of an abundant of caution, I, alongside the Cohoes police department, asked for the New York State Police to also review the matter. Again, at this time, I ask for privacy for my family and I during this challenging time.”

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