POTSDAM — A Potsdam police officer, who has since been fired, has been arrested and charged with choking a person in custody at the village police station.
Matthew A. Seymour, 45, is charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal obstruction of breathing.
The former patrolman was arrested stemming from an April 1 incident where he “applied pressure to the throat of a male individual (in custody) which impeded his breathing,” according to the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated and made the arrest.
Seymour was released with an appearance ticket for Potsdam Town Court. An order of protection was issued in favor of the victim.
The sheriff’s office said it started its investigation after receiving “a referral from the Potsdam Village Police Department through the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office in regards to an incident involving an on duty patrolman.”
In 2015, Seymour was placed on leave after shooting and killing a Clarkson University graduate student found stabbing a classmate in the grad student’s apartment.
Seymour returned to the department on Nov. 3, 2015, after he was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 10, the day that he fired four shots from his .45-caliber Glock 21 service pistol, killing 31-year-old Tian Ma.
Seymour and Officer Clinton M. Perrigo arrived at 401 Swan St. in the Swan Landing Apartments in response to a report of a domestic assault, and found Ma on top of 25-year-old Yazhen Jiang, stabbing both her and himself. Mr. Perrigo did not fire his pistol.
At the time of the shooting, then-village police chief Kevin M. Bates said Ma refused to obey the officers’ commands to drop the knife.
“They had their weapons drawn and asked the assailant several times to drop the knife and he did not comply,” Mr. Bates said in 2015. “Officer Seymour shot four times, killing Ma on the spot.”
Seymour afterward agreed to testify before a grand jury that reviewed the shooting to make sure it was either in self-defense or in protection of a third party.
Then-village administrator Everett E. Basford in November 2015 said he and Mr. Bates made the decision to have Seymour return to work following a discussion they had a week prior, without the grand jury having convened.
“There was no requirement that he be put off work. It is precautionary to remove someone involved in a fatality,” Mr. Basford said in 2015. “At this point we have been assured that there were no pending issues to be aware of, so we thought it was time to bring him back.”
“It would have been nice if the grand jury convened and confirmed that it was an unfortunate but justified action and that there were no circumstances that would have prohibited him from returning to work,” Mr. Basford said at the time.
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