Second arrest for assault of officer

Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia

Michele Salerno was not arrested in January, when this photo was taken, for shooting a dog on his property, saying the dog killed his duck. He was arrested twice this summer for assaulting a police officer.

For the second time in a week, Michele Salerno was arrested for assaulting a Guilderland Police officer. Police say he bit the first time and then, the second time, slammed his door on the hand of a sergeant delivering a bench warrant.

On June 30, Salerno had been a passenger in a car on a “so-called routine traffic stop,” said Captain Curtis Cox. Traveling on Route 20, at about 7 p.m., the driver of the car “made an abrupt stop, causing our officer to take evasive action,” said Cox. “The passenger got out alone and engaged our officer.” There was no collision.

Salerno, 54, of 707 Altamont-Voorheesville Road in New Scotland left the car and confronted Officer Robert Bailey, defying Bailey’s orders to return to the car, police said; when, after arresting Salerno, Bailey tried to handcuff him, he resisted, assaulting and biting Bailey.

For that, Salerno was charged with two felonies — third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree assault — and with two misdemeanors: resisting arrest and second-degree obstructing governmental administration.

Salerno was to have appeared for those charges on July 3 in Guilderland Town Court. Because he didn’t show, Cox said, the court issued a warrant. Guilderland officers went to his home to serve the bench warrant on Monday evening, July 7.

They got to his home on Route 156 at about 8:52 p.m. and Salerno resisted, Cox said. “He slammed the door against the sergeant’s hand, which caused the injury,” he said.

Sergeant Michael Minette was treated and released from an area hospital.

Salerno was charged on July 7 with another felony — second-degree assault — and two more misdemeanors: resisting arrest, and second-degree obstructing governmental administration.

He was arraigned at Guilderland Town Court and remanded to Albany County’s jail in lieu of $15,000 bail. (Bail after his June 30 arrest had been set at $4,000.)

Cox said he was not aware of inebriation in either case. Of the June 30 arrest, Cox said, “When the officer stopped him, he wouldn’t have known if there was intoxication or drug impairment because it happened so quickly.” The driver was not arrested. “The passenger acted alone,” Cox said of Salerno.

Asked if the police had considered sending Salerno for a psychiatric examination, Cox said that police, under the mental hygiene law, can send a non-violent offender “where the party is going to harm himself or others” for a psychiatric evaluation. But, he went on, “When they commit a crime, the party has to be arraigned because of the felony....The judge has the ability to order a psychiatric exam.”

Cox said he did not know if one was ordered in this case. Eileen Dean, Guilderland’s chief court clerk, said this week that information on whether or not a psychiatric exam was ordered could not be released.

Salerno could not be reached for comment.

Salerno had been in the news in January after he shot his neighbor’s collie on his property; he said at the time that the dog had killed his duck. A general contractor and native of Italy, Salerno raises a variety of birds that he considers pets and also derives income from. He had had problems with dogs killing his birds before. He was not charged for killing the collie because New York’s Agricultural and Markets Law authorizes an owner to shoot if a dog attacks or threatens a companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal.

Asked if such a reaction to arrest was unusual, Cox said, “People do whatever they think they have to do. There have been biting incidents before.”

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