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Thu., Apr. 17
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Potsdam-area woman released under probation supervision following Massena DWI arrest

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MASSENA - A Potsdam-area woman repeatedly denied allegations that she had been found drunk slumped over the wheel of her vehicle with the motor running while it was parked in the Harte Haven Shopping Plaza.

Heather M. Kirby also alleged she had been sexually and physically assaulted by village police officers during her arrest and while she was being held in custody, allegations Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall told her had reportedly been determined to be unfounded.

Village police had charged Kirby, 27, of 92 state Route 345, Potsdam, with driving while intoxicated after she was reportedly found slumped over the steering wheel with her vehicle running at 1:03 a.m. Friday in the Harte Haven Shopping Center parking lot. She was also charged with obstruction of governmental administration, unlawful possession of marijuana and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle on a public highway. She was arraigned late Friday afternoon by Mr. Crandall and released under the supervision of the probation department.

Police said they responded to a complaint of a female slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle shortly before 1 a.m. Friday and found Kirby in the driver’s seat with the 1999 Sunfire running, according to court documents. They said the female was unresponsive when they first approached the vehicle, and they had to open the driver’s side door and shake her to get her attention, noting she remained very lethargic. Police said two empty beer cans and a smoking device and bag, both allegedly containing marijuana, were located inside the vehicle.

Village police, in documents submitted to the court, Kirby had become very belligerent when she was being transported to the village police station, refused to take a breathalyzer test and on three separate occasions refused to answer questions about whether she under her Miranda warning and DWI arrest warnings.

They said while in custody at the police station she slammed a department telephone against the wall, refused to comply with orders from officers and had to be physically restrained so she could be moved to a holding cell at the station.

Kirby was transported to Massena Memorial Hospital on two separate occasions, overnight Friday while she was being held at the police station and then again in mid-afternoon when she was in the courtroom waiting for the acting village justice at her arraignment. She repeatedly told the police officers that escorted her to her 2:45 p.m. arraignment that she was having an anxiety attack and needed her medications, curling up in a near fetal position on the floor in front of the bench in the courtroom.

“They (hospital officials) told them I needed my meds. I listened to the doctor tell them. My chest hurts. I’ve told you plenty of times I need my meds. I told them this was going to happen,” she told Sgt. Adam J. Love.

The village police sergeant repeatedly told Kirby he legally couldn’t give her medications and called Massena Rescue to transport her to Massena Memorial Hospital for a second time.

She returned to the courtroom at 5 p.m. and was arraigned by Mr. Crandall. Kirby denied all of the allegations made by police. “I did not refuse to take any tests. They never asked me to take a chemical test. Wow. A lie is a lie. I wasn’t even driving my car. The keys weren’t in it. It wasn’t running. All I was doing was sleeping in my car,” she said.

Mr. Crandall told Kirby she should share that information with her attorney, Denice Goodrich Smith. “I will tell my lawyer, along with being sexually assaulted by a police officer,” she said, charging a police officer had struck his hands down her pants during the traffic stop.

“They need to act like gentlemen, like officers of the law, not like perverts,” she fumed.

Kirby also argued her back and tailbone had been injured while she was in custody and also told Mr. Crandall she had marks on her arms as a result of her treatment by police officers.

“I have bruises all down my arms from them manhandling me last night. I’d like to file a complaint with the chief of police,” she said.

The acting village justice noted it was his understanding CAVA representatives and state police had talked with Kirby after she made her allegations about improper conduct by village police. “All that will be on camera from Harte Haven,” Mr. Crandall suggested.

Kirby alleged village police had failed to comply with a state police recommendation that the CAVA representative could stay with her while she was in custody. “I didn’t feel safe or comfortable. The village police officers kept laughing at me, harassing me. They thought it was funny I was almost dying in the cell. They wouldn’t let the state police finish what they were doing,” she suggested.

Kirby acknowledged she was driving on a hardship license after her operating privileges were suspended following a drinking and driving arrest in the town of Norfolk. She said she is contesting that charge as well.

She also denied she had obstructed officers from performing their duties when she was being processed. “That’s also not true. They handcuffed me once, and they slipped right off,” Kirby told the village justice.

But Kirby did not challenge the marijuana violation. “Marijuana is legal in a few states, which is why I’m moving,” she said.

Mr. Crandall indicated he was prepared to release Kirby - rather than send her to the county jail, but he said he was concerned by documentation in the police records suggesting that while in custody she had threatened to burn her own house down, harm herself and find the police officer’s families and kill them.

“I swear to God on my kids ...,” she told Mr. Crandall, noting she had no plans to harm anyone. “I just want to go home to my kids.”

The acting village justice released Kirby under the supervision of the probation department with a number of stipulations including that she maintain her familial obligations. He told the Potsdam-area woman that it was his understanding two of her three children - ages 2 and 3 - had been left in the care of a another female who was allegedly found unresponsive at the residence during an investigation launched after no one was found at her home when her eight year old was being dropped off at home. The bus driver opted to take that child back to school.

“You guys are keeping me from doing that,” she retorted, noting she had been kept in custody for nearly 17 hours.

Kirby’s final complaint was that she was being forced to wear hospital pants and a hoodie after police took the clothes she had been wearing at the time of her arrest. Sgt. Love told the court Kirby’s clothing had been taken for evidence after she alleged she had been sexually assaulted.

She had also been also critical of Sgt. Love and Ptl. Michael Flynn for treating her with respect when they took her to the courtroom for her arraignment. “I don’t know why you guys are being so nice to me now when everyone has been jerk offs to me for 24 hours,” she grumbled.

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