The house in the barricade. Reader submitted photo

See here for the response from Sheriff Ken Lansing

Danby, N.Y. — Melissa Cady wants this to be clear: She does not blame law enforcement for the death of her husband.

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David Cady, 36, died in a standoff with law enforcement that lasted over 60 hours. Police say David Cady barricaded himself inside his home in Danby, fired a shot at law enforcement and refused to be talked out.

Authorities, citing an autopsy, say David Cady died after a self-inflicted gunshot during the barricade. Still, some readers of Ithaca Voice have questioned whether law enforcement were to blame for his death. Melissa Cady said she does not share that criticism.

“I’m not going after them at all for my husband death — that’s a choice he made. That’s a choice I have to live with,” Melissa Cady says.

The house in the barricade. Reader submitted photo

Melissa Cady’s frustrations

But this does not mean Melissa Cady, 34, thinks that the sheriff’s office handled the situation appropriately. Far from it.

In an hour-long interview Wednesday morning, Melissa Cady expressed her furor over how the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department handled the situation.

Of her many complaints, these were her principal points:

1 — Disproportionate police response

Melissa Cady says the response from the law enforcement — involving upwards of 150 police officers from over a dozen police agencies, including from those out-of-state — was disproportionate to her husband’s offense. David Cady was wanted for violating probation on a DWI arrest.

“It was a fucking DWI. He wasn’t a murderer. He wasn’t a bank robber,” Melissa Cady says.

2 — Destruction of home

Melissa Cady said the damage done to her home was unnecessary. The video below shows the aftermath of the house.

After going back into the home, “We picked up over 150 tear gas grenades — some of them still live,” she said.

“You’re trying to tell me 150 (men) from 19 different police forces couldn’t go in there and get one man without totally destroying my home?,” she asks.

Melissa Cady said she and relatives discovered that police left empty pizza boxes, discarded water bottles and sub wrappers at her house from the days-long barricade. (The Voice has not been able to independently confirm this claim.)

3 — Allegations of premeditated standoff

The sheriff’s office has said David Cady strategically placed long guns throughout the home and traveled to Pennsylvania to purchase ammunition for a possible standoff with law enforcement.

Both of these allegations are untrue, according to Melissa Cady. “He wasn’t some weird psycho man — we went to Pennsylvania to see family. That was all,” Melissa Cady says.

She said it was not true that the long guns were strategically placed in the house. “I told them exactly where the guns were,” she says of her conversation with law enforcement.

4 — She was not in danger from David Cady

A sheriff’s department statement from the initial incident said: “Through verbal negotiations the family members were removed to a secure location leaving the suspect alone inside of the residence.”

Melissa Cady said she was never held hostage or felt endangered by her husband. She said the main difficulty in leaving the house was that her two children did not want to leave their dad’s side.

Authorities’ response

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department has referred questions from The Voice to statements.

Those statements say that law enforcement did what they thought was necessary in the face of an armed subject who had demonstrated his willingness to use force.

The most recently released statement contains the following paragraphs:

Eventually, law enforcement knew and anticipated needing to enter the residence, in order to take the subject into custody. Based upon the information being developed through interviews and practices used by other agencies in the past, it became necessary to breech part of the outside area of the house to ensure the safety of all involved.

Sheriff Lansing reports that constant efforts were made throughout the ordeal to communicate with Cady through the use of a land-line, cell phone, and other law enforcement equipment. Cady was observed, on several occasions, moving throughout the house carrying a long gun. The last time he was observed was late Thursday. All attempts to communicate with Cady were unsuccessful.

Additionally, in an interview with The Ithaca Journal shortly after the incident’s conclusion, Sheriff Ken Lansing stressed that officers did what they could to end the situation peacefully. This included making multiple attempts to contact the suspect.

“I really want the suspect to come out unharmed and just answer the charges placed on him,” Lansing, the incident commander during the barricade, told The Journal. “We do not want any conclusion where someone is deceased. Unfortunately, it did happen here.”

According to The Journal, Lansing “said every attempt was made to provide a safe and peaceful resolution to the situation.”

Coming report

The sheriff’s office will be briefing the Tompkins County Legislature’s public safety committee on how the incident was handled, according to Mike Lane, a Tompkins County legislator.

Lane said it was important for lawmakers to trust the trained experts on how to best handle these volatile situations.

“They are the legally authorized users of force and there will always be questions about what level of force is appropriate — we don’t want our officers hurt and we don’t want the perpetrators hurt,” he said.

“…It’s hard for legislators to second guess what law enforcement did here; you had a number of experts here (at the scene), as frustrating as it is … we really have to rely on the expertise of the people who do this.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.