A former New York City police officer was arrested by East Hampton Village police Friday following an incident earlier in the week at John M. Marshall Elementary School during which he had allegedly identified himself as an active N.Y.P.D. officer and questioned staff and a village police officer stationed there about school security, police said.
However, the man’s attorney, Edward Burke Jr., following an early-evening arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court Friday in front of Justice Catherine Cahill, characterized the circumstances leading to the arrest as “a great misunderstanding.”
The man, Harry Dalian, 36, of East Hampton, reportedly showed a badge, as well as a N.Y.P.D. identification card, identifying himself as an officer. The badge and ID in question had been reported stolen by Mr. Dalian himself just before he retired for "personal reasons" from the N.Y.P.D. in 2006, according to a release sent out Thursday afternoon by the village police. Mr. Dalian began work as a New York City police office in 2004.
When Mr. Dalian was arrested he was said to be in possession of a loaded 9-millimeter automatic handgun, for which he had a permit.
The village police department has been coordinating its investigation with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s department, which immediately revoked Mr. Dalian’s New York State gun permit, as well as reportedly confiscating eight additional handguns belonging to him, according to both police and Mr. Burke.
Mr. Dalian was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, as well as criminal impersonation of a police officer, both class A misdemeanors.
Mr. Burke told Justice Cahill during arraignment proceedings Friday that Mr. Dalian has an 8-year-old daughter attending the school, and pointed out that the man’s wife and 2-year-old son were sitting in the front row of the courtroom. Sitting next to them was an older woman.
Mr. Dalian’s wife was visibly upset, and the older woman kept assuring her before the arraignment began that everything would be all right. At the same time, the toddler began singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” oblivious to what was going on around him.
Mr. Burke told Justice Cahill that Mr. Dalian had noticed that there was “an open or unlocked door at the school,” which precipitated his visit to the building to inquire about security.
Justice Cahill released Mr. Dalian without bail, but with a June 13 date to be back in court.
Handcuffs finally removed from Mr. Dalian’s wrists, he picked up his little boy and hugged him.
An earlier version of this story implied incorrectly that Mr. Dalian may have been carrying a gun when he visited the school.