ITHACA, N.Y. – After a months-long analysis of a Danby standoff that left a man dead in 2015, the Department of Justice wrapped up its “analysis” of the incident with a one-page letter.
The 61-hour standoff happened on Hornbrook Road in January 2015 in Danby. David Cady, who police were trying to apprehend on a DWI warrant, died of a self-inflicted injury during that time. His family home was also destroyed.
Police have said he was armed with six guns at the time of the standoff and that they previously tried 18 times to take Cady into custody.
The DOJ letter, which is dated Aug. 29, briefly mentions two visits from the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The letter states that officials from the DOJ, in conjunction with the Virginia Center for Policing Initiative, visited Tompkins County on April 7 and Aug 8 – 10 this year.
In April, officials met with police agencies and the public to discuss “tactics, information gathering and community engagement.” The August visit allegedly addressed, “tactical protocols, community engagement, and incident planning.”
The letter was signed by Noble Wray, who heads the Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative at the DOJ. It offers no public suggestions or commentary about the incident, but thanks the sheriff’s office for requesting the organization’s assistance.
Related: Danby Standoff Archives
For some people at the meeting, especially those who participated in the one-on-one gatherings facilitated by the DOJ, the letter was like a punctuation point at the end of a long and controversial experience.
Sheriff Kenneth Lansing said after the meeting that while the outcome was tragic for the family, he and officers tried to take Cady into custody peacefully.
“We did a lot of things in an attempt to peacefully apprehend this gentlemen,” Lansing said. “We did our best..”
He said the DOJ officials stated that the 61- hour standoff was one of the longest they’ve seen and were “impressed” with the different tactics used by officers and the fact that police did not use lethal force to try to apprehend Cady.
Danby Town Board member Rebecca Brenner and SWAT Commander Jacob Young, of the Ithaca Police Department, gave brief anecdotal updates about their experiences with the DOJ during a Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday.
Brenner addressed how police, in an effort to build community trust, should have met with local schools to craft an age-appropriate message about police or the incident.
She said she has three kids who rode the school bus with Cady’s children.
“I think a lot kids were confused,” she said. “That house in on the bus route…”
She said that in meeting with the DOJ and the public, these concerns were addressed.
Young said he participated in a technical review of the incident where officials went over what worked and what didn’t work at the standoff.
But these anecdotes were not what a lot of people were expecting, officials said.
“This one-page letter doesn’t say anything,” said District No. 13 Legislator Martha Robertson. “Call me stupid…”
She said she expected a report, recommendations or some kind of follow-up document from the DOJ about the standoff.
There will, however, be no further updates or participation from the DOJ about the incident.
“I’m sure we’re all very disappointed by this…I think we did, at the time, the best thing we would,” said District No. 11 Legislator Peter Stein. He said he also expected some kind of report from the DOJ.
Stein attended at least one meeting with the DOJ about the standoff, which he described as being very technical. He said he asked whether police could have done something different to prevent Cady’s death or handle the situation more efficiently.
“They kept saying they couldn’t answer questions like that,” he said.
But DOJ officials did tell him that there didn’t appear to be any “inappropriate action” during the standoff.
“I wish the whole county could have heard it, but I heard it,” Stein said.