ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Though the officers involved in the Tasing death of Dontay Ivy were cleared of any wrongdoing, some believe they handled the incident incorrectly.
“I have a concern about the aggressive policing,” Bryan Bernard with the Albany Chapter of the NAACP said. “The over the top policing that has occurred.”
Bernard disagrees with a grand jury’s decision to clear four Albany police officers in the death of Ivy. Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox explained why Ivy was approached as he walked home from a convenience store in the early morning hours of April 2.
“They grew more concerned that he did, in fact, have something on him; potentially a weapon,” Cox said.
Cox said officers then asked Ivy if he had a gun, and he said, ‘No.’ But officers said they still believed the 39-year-old may have been carrying one.
Ivy suffered from schizophrenia, and police said he became aggressive and that’s when a physical altercation occurred. Ivy was Tased multiple times. He later died. A medical examiner said a heart condition caused Ivy’s death, and the Taser and stress of the altercation may have contributed.
“The officers feel horrible about this,” Cox said. “They didn’t have any intent. They were well within our policies. They were well within the rights that they have as police officers within the state of New York.”
Still, Bernard said he doesn’t understand why the situation escalated.
“He had no warrants,” Bernard said. “They checked, at least preliminarily, he had no weapons, so why the continued detention.”
Albany County District Attorney David Soares now recommends Albany police use body cameras. Soares said some surveillance video was obtained that showed the altercation between Ivy and police, but no witnesses were found and cameras in the patrol cars were either not on or not working at the time.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan also believes body cameras would be better video than patrol cameras.
“They’re really not designed for the type of police video that I think the the district attorney was identifying as would have been helpful in this case,” she said.
As for Ivy’s mental health issue, Chief Cox said officers did not notice any signs of one.
“We can always provide more training,” Cox said. “We can always try to provide more awareness.”
The officers involved in the incident have been on leave the entire investigation, but Cox said they will now return to working at the department.
Cox said the department is beginning to look into the use of body cameras for officers, and Sheehan said she is reaching out to state and federal partners to try and establish funding for the cameras.