Albany Police investigating after man dies in custody

Dontay Ivy (Photo provided by family.)

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – Albany police say they are currently investigating the death of a 39-year-old man in their custody.

Officials say on Thursday at approximately 12:30 a.m., officers were on patrol when they encountered an individual walking in the area of Lark Street and Second Street. During their interaction, the individual became highly aggressive and a physical altercation took place between the individual and the officers.

Police say they Tased the individual, but it had little or no effect on him. They say he continued to engage in a fight with the officers and eventually led them on a brief foot pursuit.

The officers were able to apprehend him following the foot pursuit and placed him in custody. Once the suspect was secured, he suffered an apparent medical emergency and lost consciousness. The officers immediately administered CPR and summoned emergency medical services to the scene.

The suspect was identified as 39-year-old Donald Ivy Jr. of Albany. He was transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

Acting Police Chief Brendan Cox says all three officers involved are on administrative leave as an internal investigation is conducted. The officers have been identified as Officer Joshua Sears, Officer Michael Mahany and Officer Charles Skinkle.

“We need to do an investigation, and we need to find out exactly what happened,” Cox said. “So I would ask that no one jump to any conclusions. We’ve always tried to be transparent. We’ve always tried to make sure that we did the right thing, and that’s what we’re going to do here. There’s certainly nothing pointing to excessive force at this time, but we need to do an investigation.”

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan released a statement Thursday stating: “The Albany Police Department is investigating the death of a person in custody. The incident occurred on Lark Street near Second Street early this morning. I ask that everyone respect the process and await the results of the investigation. Our condolences go out to the family during this difficult time.”

Family members say Ivy was an Albany High School basketball standout and a father. They gathered on Second Street as they hugged and tried to console each other.

“My cousin is one of the most mile mannered guys that you can meet,” Christina Staton said.

Station said Ivy suffered from paranoid schizophrenia who was afraid of people. She said police called and stopped by Thursday morning to let the family know what happened.

“They approached him and asked him he would take his hands out of his jacket,” she explained. “They said that he refused, and you know, I don’t understand why he would refuse. I understand why he would refuse because he probably wasn’t mentally cognizant of what was being asked of him.”

Cox said the officers involved followed the proper protocols and procedures.

“From what I know at this point, yes,” he said.

Police released a timeline of the incident.

According to officials, officers made contact with Ivy at 12:36 a.m.; officers started CPR and requested emergency services at 12:47 a.m.; emergency services arrived at the scene at 12:50 a.m.; and the ambulance arrived at Albany Med with Ivy at 1:10 a.m.

“We already have so many things going on in our community that give our young African American men cause for alarm already,” Staton said. “And so I’m hoping that the account of events is accurate according to what police have told us. I’m hopeful for that.”

But other family members are still concerned.

“I don’t understand why they stopped him to begin with,” Ivy’s sister, Aneisha Johnson, said.

Cox said police initially approached Ivy because of suspicious behavior.

“We know it was based on suspicious activity at this point, but we still need to in our investigation find out exactly what that activity was,” he said.

“Our biggest concern is that some of the residents around here have a very different account of how things took place,” Staton said.

Cox, however, said there was “nothing pointing to any excessive force at this time.”

A rally is being held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Albany Police Department South Station on Arch Street. Some family members will be in attendance with community members who said they want justice for Ivy.

Police are still waiting for toxicology results and an autopsy report. The incident remains under investigation.

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