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Community Rally Scheduled After Death Of Man In Police Custody

Early Thursday morning, Donald “Dontay” Shaw Ivy died following an encounter with Albany police. Different narratives have unfolded regarding the interaction between officers and Ivy, who was Tased during the struggle. The death has led to a call for justice and a rally outside police headquarters tonight.

Police say Ivy was walking near his home along Lark Street and Second Street when three officers stopped him. At some point their interaction became physical, and Ivy was Tasered. Family members told local media Ivy suffered from schizophrenia and had heart problems.  Albany's Acting Police Chief Brendan Cox lays out the timeline:  "The stop occurred at 12:36 a.m., when the officers recognized that he was in medical distress they started CPR at 12:47 a.m.  They requested the Albany Fire Department Emergency Medical Services to respond. At the same time, they started CPR at 12:47 a.m.  EMS arrived at the scene at 12:50 a.m. and they were dispatched at 12:47 a.m.  Our Fire Department and our police department, we all, the police department, the communications division falls under the police department, and we dispatch the fire department as well as the Mohawk Ambulances. So they arrived at 12:50 a.m. and at 1:10 a.m. Mr. Ivy and the ambulance and the paramedics arrived at Albany Medical Center, where unfortunately, Mr. Ivy was pronounced deceased."

As news of the incident began spreading, Ivy's family jumped ahead of official police channels, volunteering his identity and other information.

Cox says officers Joshua Sears, Michael Mahany, and Charles Skinkle are "going through a lot of grief themselves."  "Like all officers, they take this job to help people. This is a tragedy. This is not something that they would ever want to go through."

A press release issued by Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration implies the police account of the encounter differs from witness accounts that Ivy's body lay in the street for several hours. The group is calling for "the complete disarmament of the APD." Spokesman Sean Collins says tonight's rally will be an opportunity for the community to come together.  "Regardless of what an investigation, you know, an internal investigation finds, the outcome is the same and the outcome not just here in Albany, but nationwide, and outcome that is a re-occurring scene every day in the news, of the young black man being killed by the police for one reason or another. There's a general fatigue of that story, and people want to express their anger and frustration and see something change."

Some have questioned why the rally is being held at "downtown" police headquarters when the incident took place within blocks of the Arbor Hill station. Acting Chief Cox says the APD is ready.  "We've tried to make sure we've been transparent to the point we can be at this time, and we would just hope that the folks that are putting misinformation out there would stop doing that because that's causing the family more grief, and that's not fair to the family."

Community advocate Marlon Anderson says while community policing isn't perfect, it's been working in Albany. He described what happened to Ivy, a former local high school sports star, as a "sad situation," one resulting from what he calls "a culture of violence."  "The police is just as much a victim of that culture as individuals in the street. We have to understand that. We have to come together and get a lot more proactive on the issue of violence in the streets and the culture of violence in the streets than the  reactiveness that we've been pursuing. And that's what's going to be going on tonight. We have a reactive rally, when we should of had a proactive rally that could have prevented this tragedy."

Anderson hopes that police will continue that transparency by making any existing audio or video of the Ivy incident available to the community. It’s also at least the third case in recent years in which a Capital Region resident died after being Tased by police.  All three officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

The rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. outside the Albany Police Department’s South Station, at  126 Arch St.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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