Donald Andrews Jr. was spared a possible 25 years in prison when his shop's cameras caught the real criminal
Surveillance cameras in a Schenectady County, New York store that sells smoking accessories recorded a most disturbing crime as it took place on the store counter only inches from the cash register. It wasn’t a robbery, it wasn’t shoplifting, nor was it employee theft. It was a police informant caught planting evidence.
Crack cocaine was photographed by the informant then booked as evidence in the arrest. However, the CCTV system in the Dabb City Smoke Shop on Mohawk Avenue plainly shows the undercover informant planting the crack on the merchant’s counter from two different camera angles.
Big brother is watching, but this time the crook is an informant working for the police and the suspect in the original investigation is now the victim. “Donald Andrews Jr., who is the owner of the Dabb City Smoke Shop, was arrested for allegedly selling narcotics from his business,” writes L.V. Hunter in a piece published on the web site for Club 93.7, a traditional radio station offering urban music.
An article in The Afro Lounge reported, “Andrews was charged with third degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was released after getting the police to look at the camera footage.” So, no harm done? What happens now? Does Mr. Andrews get an apology letter and free passes to the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Ball this year? No, he’s going to sue… and I hope he wins big.
Is there any amount that could be fair? I doubt it. If you’ll pardon the pun, how can you ever take away the sting of being arrested and humiliated in front of your customers, your neighbors and your entire community?
In an article titled, “Scotia business owner arrested for selling drugs” published April 11th of this year, ABC News 10 reported, “Police say 24-year-old Donald Andrews, of Schenectady, who owns and operates Dabb City Smoke Shop on Mohawk Avenue, was arrested last Saturday afternoon when a search warrant was executed there by the Sheriff’s Office and Scotia Police.” Two things that aren’t very easy to get back are your virginity and your reputation.
We’ll return to discussing the harm done to Mr. Donald Andrews Jr. in a moment. Before doing so, mustn’t it be mentioned that the community as a whole has suffered? Tax dollars were wasted on this phony bust. In addition, during the time police were planting evidence by proxy in an attempt to make a case against Mr. Andrews, real drug dealers were dealing drugs or worse, they were getting away with murder.
Whose crack did they use? Did the informant bring his own crack or is that from the evidence room? Who hands out the crack from the evidence room? Did they know how or why it was intended to be used? Are other people serving time following similar arrests? What happens to such convicts who weren’t fortunate enough to have seven cameras watching their phony arrest?
Mr. Donald Andrews Jr. is now the plaintiff in “a lawsuit and that seeks $500,000 in damages” according to the Albany Times Union and I think he deserves it. However, I think it is really unfair that the people of Scotia or Schenectady County will have to foot the bill. By the time this is over, Dabb City Smoke shop should have some really nice inventory.
The amount probably doesn’t even matter. Surely the week he spent behind bars subjected to being beaten or raped was a nightmare. Undoubtedly, believing for a week that you’re going to prison for twenty-five years must stress and age an individual not used to facing hard time.
No amount of money can make up for that. The Albany Times Union reports that Donald Andrews is “still upset by how his life was nearly destroyed by a paid police informant who authorities have confirmed set him up.”
We contacted Mr. Andrews to ask if he would comment further. He stated, “I am beyond angry…. this happens all the time [because] the Schenectady police department is so corrupt.”