COXSACKIE – A YouTube personality known to the Twin Counties will serve 10 days in jail for striking a correctional officer on the grounds of Coxsackie Correctional Facility, the Greene County District Attorney’s office said.
Tyrone Eddy, 53, of Enfield, Connecticut, was issued a summons May 16 for second-degree harassment with physical contact, a violation. Eddy, while shooting a video outside the maximum security prison on May 16, 11260 Route 9W, intentionally used his left shoulder to hit correctional officer Jeremiah Donnelly, causing the officer to take a step backward, police said.
Eddy, known by his YouTube moniker “New England Truth,” refers to himself as a First Amendment auditor. His videos show him recording law enforcement officers while they are on the job as he taunts them to see if they violate anyone’s rights.
A bench trial was scheduled for Sept. 17, but after waiting 30 minutes for Eddy to show up, Town Justice Wanda Dorpfeld issued a bench warrant for failure to appear. Eddy reappeared Monday. The trial was scheduled in Coxsackie Town Court instead of Greene County Court because the charge is a violation, not a felony.
After a three-hour trial Monday in Coxsackie Town Court, Eddy was convicted and sentenced the same day, according to a statement from the Greene County District Attorney’s Office.
The video depicting the alleged harassment, “1st Amendment Audit/Assault Coxsackie Max prison,” has 15,000 views. Before entering the main grounds on May 16, Eddy points the camera to a sign on the lawn of the maximum security prison that says “… any device with audio recording capabilities… are prohibited unless specifically and individually approved by the commissioner.”
Donnelly, a correctional officer for 37 years at the maximum-security state prison, was assigned perimeter patrol from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Within an hour after the incident, Donnelly made his statement to police about his encounter with Eddy.
“I was notified over the radio that there was a male on prison property videotaping near the front entrance,” according to Donnelly’s complaint. “I responded to that location and observed a white male with three cameras and he appeared to be videotaping the front entrance of the jail.”
When confronted by any people videotaping on prison property, Donnelly said he is supposed to approach them and read “Memorandum Civilian use of Video and or Camera Equipment” on DOCCS property.
Eddy had one camera strapped to his chest, another mounted to a stick and holding a cell phone attached to another stick, Donnelly said. Donnelly said he attempted to approach Eddy multiple times.
“He began to yell and shout at me, calling me an idiot and stupid,” Donnelly said in his written statement.
Donnelly goes on to say that he was standing on the sidewalk when Eddy approached him in an aggressive manner, dipped his left shoulder and lunged at him, striking Donnelly’s right shoulder, causing him to lose his balance.
“I felt immediate pain in my shoulder in the area he hit,” according to the complaint filed by Donnelly with state police. “I advised him that he had assaulted me and he replied, ‘Yes, I did.’
Eddy left the property afterward.
Eddy, in a follow-up video after receiving his summons on May 16, can be heard saying about the incident: “I think I should just let them come and get me.”
Eddy said the officer moved toward him and “basically assaults” him, according to the video.
Eddy predicted in the video that he would receive a bench warrant if he did not appear in court. Eddy said he is a pro-se attorney and was not concerned about the summons.
“I am not worried about it because there is appellate courts,” Eddy said in the video.
In a letter to the DA’s office dated Sept. 11, Donnelly’s wife, Sherrie, said she read the comments under the video published on YouTube depicting her husband.
“You can only imagine the fear I must have when reading a comment such as, “When he gets off duty, I would follow him and kill his family in front of him if he tried to run me over,” Sherrie said. “We have always had a security system at our home but have since had video cameras installed so that I can feel safe.”
Eddy put the entire facility in danger with his actions, Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione said in his closing statement. As Donnelly testified, his goal, and the goal of a correctional officer, is to go to work, do his job as best as he can and return home safely to his family, Stanzione said.
“It is horrible that people watching Mr. Eddy’s video, wherein he alleges that “COs are beating inmates for no reason,” results in viewers threatening to kill the family of certain COs,” Stanzione said outside the courthouse. “It is even worse when the story told on YouTube is not true. Mr. Eddy should have known viewers would react with threats of violent toward the families of COs.”
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.