March 3, 2017
By Lisa Lakey
A New York man pleaded guilty to second-degree felony assault Friday, Feb. 24, in a Columbia County court after accidentally shooting a New York Department of Environmental Conservation officer last November.
Alan Blanchard faces up to seven years in prison and a potential $5,000 fine for the accidental shooting that left DEC Officer James Davey in the Intensive Care Unit at Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie after emergency surgery for his wounds. Davey, who has been with the DEC for 12 years, currently is undergoing rehabilitation.
The incident leading to Blanchard’s plea took place on the evening of Nov. 29, 2016. Blanchard and a friend, James Brown of Pine Plains, were hunting after dark in Gallatin. DEC officers James Davey and Eliza Bobseine were dispatched to the area of Silvernails Road to investigate a report of illegal hunting.
While walking through a corn field around 5 p.m., Davey was shot in the pelvis. Bobseine compressed Davey’s wound and called for help. Blanchard and Brown remained on the scene to aid in the officer’s rescue.
When police arrived, Blanchard was arrested and charged with felony assault and sent to the Columbia County Jail without bail. Two days after the incident, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos spoke out against the shooting.
“This was not a hunter,” Seggos said. “This was someone who was poaching. Hunters do not shoot in the dark. Hunters do not aim wildly. And they certainly do not shoot at our ECO’s.”
Friday, Seggos said Blanchard admitted “dangerous and reckless conduct,” and said he hopes this case “serves as an example for all that illegal hunting after dusk and careless conduct with firearms will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said he hopes the outcome of the Blanchard case will discourage other poachers.
“We hope that this conviction will deter other irresponsible hunters, an extremely small majority, from similar criminal conduct,” he said. “I want to thank New York State Police Senior Investigator Bill Mulrein and give the highest praise to [Davey and Bobseine]. These brave public servants work day and night to enforce the law and protect us all.”
Blanchard is set to reappear before Judge Jonathan Nichols for sentencing on April 28.