As of Monday, two City of Rensselaer police officers have been suspended without pay for 30 days after failing to report their alleged roles in the killing of a woodchuck, according to the Times Union. The incident took place on July 29 at Frear Park Golf Course during a Rensselaer Police Benevolent Association event. Officers Tyler Sammon and Mark Spath were accused of using a golf cart to chase a woodchuck until it reached the point of exhaustion, unable to run any further, before running the animal over several times and killing it. The two are also said to have drove over course tee boxes and through golf hole ropes. Sammon was allegedly driving the vehicle, with Spath in the passenger seat.
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer tells Hudson Valley it’s not clear when Sammon and Spath’s superiors became aware of the investigation, explaining only that, “The report came through that there was an incident, and Troy took lead on it.” The Troy Police Department referred us to Rensselaer PD, who have not yet returned calls for comment. Frear Golf Course referred us to City of Troy Parks & Recreation, who in turn referred us to the City of Troy, who have not yet returned requests for comment.
While woodchucks are not protected under New York State’s small game regulations, Section 216-5-K of Troy Parks & Recreation provisions prohibits individuals from committing “any voluntary act which will cause or contribute to the injury of any person, animal, or property within any park or park area.”
Rensselaer PD reportedly went the suspension route with Sammon and Spath after Troy PD, the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s office and the State Department of Environmental Conservation jointly determined there wasn’t enough evidence to justify prosecution.
We will update you as we have more information.