NY Attorney General sues Rensselaer County DA over officer-involved shooting

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York Attorney General is taking action in a police involved shooting in Troy.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit Wednesday, which seeks to force the Rensselaer County district attorney to turn over his investigation into the death of Edson Thevenin.

The lawsuit seeks to force Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove to comply with an executive order governing cases in which unarmed civilians are killed in interactions with police. The order specifically includes cases where, in the Attorney General’s opinion, there is a significant question as to whether the deceased person was armed and dangerous.

On Sunday, April 17, Thevenin was shot and killed by a Troy police officer following a traffic stop.

Hoosick Street scene from Sunday, April 17. (NEWS10)
Hoosick Street scene from Sunday, April 17. (NEWS10)

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Thevenin’s brother, James Thevenin, told NEWS10 ABC on April 20.

Thevenin’s family called for an outside investigation.

“We need outside sources to investigate this situation to find the truth,” Thevenin’s mother Gertha Depas said at the time.

Later in the day of April 17, representatives from the Attorney General’s office visited the scene of the incident and determined that more information was needed to determine if the case fell under Schneiderman or Abelove’s jurisdiction.

The lawsuit claims the next day, despite the decision of the investigators, Abelove told a local newspaper that Schneiderman would not be claiming jurisdiction in the case. Schneiderman said he said no such thing. Abelove claims he was misquoted in the interview, according to the AG’s office.

Edson Thevenin (PHOTO: Facebook)
Edson Thevenin (PHOTO: Facebook)

On April 19, the Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit formally requested information from Abelove in order to determine whether Thevenin was armed and dangerous. However, according to the AG’s office, three days later, on Friday, with no prior notice to the Attorney General’s office, Abelove announced that he had presented the case to a grand jury and that the grand jury had declined to indict the officer involved in the shooting.

“It was relayed to me by Mr. Clyne that the attorney general, as of this juncture, is not going to be claiming jurisdiction in this case based on the executive order signed last year by the governor,” Abelove had said.

Schneiderman is accusing Abelove of directly violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order.

“District Attorney Abelove’s actions not only violate the law,” Schneiderman said in a statement, “but directly undermine the public’s confidence in law enforcement, making the jobs of police officers and district attorneys throughout the state more difficult.”

This is the first time a district attorney has attempted to exercise jurisdiction over a case in violation of the express terms of the executive order.

NEWS10 reached out to the DA’s office on Wednesday but did not hear back. The announcement from Schneiderman came after hours, so NEWS10 will continue pursuing the story.

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