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09-09-07, 01:14 PM #1
Albany Police Detective accidentally shot with friendly fire during marijuana growth operation investigation
BERNE, N.Y.-- A veteran Albany police detective was out of surgery Thursday night at a downstate hospital after he was accidentally shot in the hand by a sheriff's investigator trying to stop an attacking dog, officials said.
Police Chief James W. Tuffey identified the wounded officer as Jeffrey Connery, 40, who was recently assigned to the Albany County sheriff's drug task force.
Connery was shot about 2:45 p.m. as he and two other officers investigated a remote marijuana-growing operation off Beaver Road.
Authorities said the string of events that led to the shooting began when the officers returned to the site they had been watching for more than a year.
Inside a ramshackle home on the sprawling land, the officers spied Kevin P. O'Reilly, 38, a man they would later learn is a parolee from Greene County with an active arrest warrant. Officers coaxed O'Reilly out of the house, but they say he then tried to run.
While the two sheriff's investigators tackled O'Reilly, his dog, who the officers had not yet seen, attacked Connery, clamping down on his right arm and bringing him to the ground. One of the sheriff's investigators then fired a single shot from his service pistol.
The .40-caliber bullet didn't miss its mark, officials said. Instead, it passed through the 100-pound mixed-breed animal, killing it, and then struck Connery in the right hand.
Albany County Sheriff James Campbell declined to identify the investigator who fired the shot. Connery was flown by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center for treatment. The extent of his injuries was not clear, but Tuffey said they were not life-threatening.
Tuffey said Connery has 17 years of experience in law enforcement, 14 of them with city police and the last five in the narcotics unit.
Both he and Campbell declined to comment on what departmental polices would govern their officers' action in the situation, saying it would be premature to speculate until a full investigation has been completed.
Internal investigators from both departments will examine the shooting, Tuffey said.
O'Reilly, who did not own or live on the property, was charged with felony burglary, as well as illegally possessing and growing marijuana and resisting arrest, said Sheriff's Inspector John Burke.
Burke said authorities seized 100 marijuana plants -- valued somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 each -- from the property.
The property's owner tipped investigators to suspicious activity there at least a year ago, Burke said.
O'Reilly, who told police he lived in Greenville, is on parole for marijuana possession and was wanted on a Family Court warrant in Greene County, Burke said.
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