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Grand Jury: No Charges In Non-Fatal Troy Police Shooting

There will be no charges in the non-fatal police shooting of Dahmeek McDonald in Troy last summer.

According to Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, the assigned special prosecutor in the case, a  Rensselaer County Grand Jury determined that the August 2017 shooting of Dahmeek McDonald by Troy Police Officer Jarrod Iler was justified.

On August 15th, 2017, the 22-year-old, wanted for absconding from parole on a drug charge, was shot in the shoulder and grazed in the head during an encounter with police after a traffic stop. No weapon was found at the scene but police said McDonald used his vehicle as a deadly weapon.

The shooting took place after Officer Iler approached McDonald’s car.

Dozens of people demonstrated outside Troy City Hall the following day.   Leading the group at the megaphone was a man who identified himself as McDonald’s uncle.   "Hopefully the mayor takes note. If he don't, we need to shut down his city."

Mayor Patrick Madden urged restraint.  "I would just ask for some patience while we work through this."  Tensions were spared from boiling over. Later, Madden said both sides had sat down and reached "an understanding."

An initial investigation of the case by Troy Police and Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove eventually landed in the hands of Schenectady County DA Carney, who was appointed as special prosecutor after Abelove recused himself.

Carney said he wouldn’t comment on the case in Monday’s announcement, which said FBI analysis largely corroborated Iler’s account that McDonald drove his car directly at the officer, who fired four shots in all.

According to the DA, the Rensselaer County Grand Jury that heard case handed up a No True Bill on July 13th to Rensselaer County Court Judge Jennifer Sober. The panel had met in separate sessions on 11 days and heard from 47 witnesses, 29 of whom were civilians. The Grand Jury also examined more than 80 exhibits, one of which was a multimedia device containing numerous videos and hundreds of photographs.

Troy City Councilman Mark McGrath says the ruling wasn't surprising.  "...considering that Office Iler has a spotless record and the fact is that Dahmeek McDonald has in the past put peoples' lives in danger, absconded from parole and was trying to get away, trying to run the officer over. So it does not surprise me one bit."

Troy Police Chief Brian Owens, sworn in in February, was not immediately available for comment.  Mayor Madden issued a statement, which says “District Attorney Carney’s statement speaks for itself, outlining the thorough and independent review of the facts undertaken by the grand jury and special prosecutor’s office during the nearly 11-month investigation. It was of utmost importance that a full and independent review of this incident was conducted, and we are grateful for the assistance from local law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s office for their diligence, professionalism and the thoroughness with which they approached this task. We express our thanks to the Schenectady County District Attorney’s office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York State Police, Albany Police Department, the grand jurors and all those who came forward to testify.”

The jury found that Iler was legally justified in discharging his weapon and injuring McDonald.  

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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