ALBANY — Gilbert Udoto sits quietly as the video plays. In it, he’s heard urging one of his employees who’s videotaping a police arrest at the Albany Civic Center to back away from the scene or risk arrest.
When the video clip ends, the look on Udoto’s face says it all.
“I meant well,” said the businessman and Kenya native who was arrested and charged with simple battery after his employee, Kiara Jackson, filed charges related to the incident. “I was simply trying to get her to back away from the scene. I was afraid that she would go to jail if she did not move back. I put up my arm to try and block her from moving any closer. That’s all.
“There was no incident. I convinced her that it was time to go to work (at Udoto’s Sand Trap Lounge), and she followed me to work. She worked that night, apparently filed the police report (at 5:12 a.m. Saturday, according to Albany police records) and came back in to work Saturday night.”
Udoto shows records on his cellphone that indicate an employee with Jackson’s name had indeed worked at the Sand Trap both days.
“I have six officers who work (security) at the Sand Trap, and nothing was said (about an incident),” the businessman continued. “Then, on Tuesday, three police cars come to my place, arrest me and take me away in handcuffs. I was fortunate to be out in an hour, but I want the world to know that I am not the person that is being betrayed in this incident.
“If I’m wrong, I want the community to judge. I treat my employees like my daughters; I would never do anything to intentionally hurt one of them.”
Jackson told police, and a witness listed in a police report written by Albany Police Department officer Joseph Moored as Irrion LaJon Conaler confirmed that Udoto had “grabbed her around the neck with one hand and her arm with the other and then began pushing her away.”
Moored also wrote that Conaler had provided “a video of the attack.”
Udoto said he was bewildered by the arrest and the charges alleged by his employee.
“There was nothing for me to benefit by hurting this young lady,” he said. “I only wanted to encourage her to go on to work so that she did not get into trouble.”