Albany’s Center For Law And Justice Turns Up Pressure Over Ellazar Williams Shooting By Police

Sep 11, 2018

An update to a story we’ve been following for the past few weeks now: Last Thursday, an Albany police investigation concluded the August 20th police shooting of a 19-year-old city man was “justified.” Tuesday, the Center For Law And Justice called a press conference to criticize that probe.

Community activist Alice Green of the Center for Law and Justice has issues with the police department's apparent conclusions in the shooting of Ellazar Williams, which they presented to the media during an update at headquarters.   "We find the unwritten report as they presented it to be generally flawed. Its raised a number of questions and left a number of them unanswered for us."

Dr. Alice Green
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Green told reporters the Center has eight concerns about the police report.

She says the community wants a written report. She questioned the unwritten report, which she says is almost exclusively based on the testimony of Detective James Olsen, who fired the shot and whose statements could not be corroborated by either witness testimony or existing video recordings. She cited the poor quality video and blasted the police assumption that Williams was depicted putting a knife in his shoulder bag. She says the arrest report filed without an arresting officer's signature contradicts the unwritten investigation report. She noted the unwritten report did not specify whether Olsen had his gun drawn during a foot chase captured on video.    "Number six, the unwritten investigation report claims that Mr. Williams was shot in the left shoulder, but a visual inspection and photograph show that the bullet entered in the left scapular area. The scapular is a flat triangular bone located in the upper back. The department's unwritten report does not explain specifically how Mr. Williams was shot in that part of his body."

Green produced an artist's rendering of where the bullet struck Williams. 

Green adds the unwritten report claims Olsen shot twice but there's no determination which shot hit Williams. She also faults it with failing to satisfactorily describe the the specific actions Williams took led to his being charged with felony menacing of a police officer.  Williams, now paralyzed from the waist down, is not speaking to police on the advice of his attorney.

Green is calling on Albany's newly appointed police chief Eric Hawkins to provide the Center with a written report addressing those eight issues...  "...including videos and the name of the arresting officer who did not sign the arrest report. A written report will serve as the foundation for a collaborative department community assessment of factors that precipitated the incident, as well as a plan for preventing such tragic events in the future, and that should include how to address the widely held negative stereotype of black males."

WAMC asked for a response from the Albany Police Department.