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Troy Residents Plan Edson Thevenin Rally Tonight Outside City Hall

Community members staged a protest outside the Rensselaer County Courthouse.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Community members staged a protest outside the Rensselaer County Courthouse in 2018.

Several Troy residents are planning a rally tonight outside city hall as the fallout from the 2016 death of Edson Thevenin continues. 

The residents say they are outraged by the April 2016 police killing of Edson Thevenin, who was stopped on a suspicion of driving under the influence, then shot and killed by Troy Police Sgt. Randall French, who contended Thevenin tried to run him over during the traffic stop.

Accusations raised in the past claim then-Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove fast-tracked French's case to a grand jury before the New York state attorney general could launch any investigation. That grand jury cleared Troy police five days after the incident. In the fallout, Democratic Troy Mayor Patrick Madden issued a statement saying the city was being unfairly involved in a dispute between the D.A. and then-state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

"The Troy Police Department and the entire administrative structure of the city of Troy have covered up that unjustified shooting for the past three years, covered it up time and time again in the face of several different investigations that showed that French was lying about the circumstances of that shooting," said Naomi Jaffe with the group "Justice for Dahmeek." 

As reported by the Times Union, an internal police department report claims Sergeant French acted improperly and lied about his actions. A separate report, whose existence only recently came to light, by former Glenville police chief Michael Ranalli disputes those findings. French has not been charged in the shooting. Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello says councilors held an executive session on Wednesday. 

"I found out at the beginning of the law committee meeting the three members that three members, Mr. Bissember, Mr. Cummings and Ms. Paratore, had all had the opportunity to read the Ranalli report, which has not been made public," Mantello said. "I along with other council members have requested to read this report and I am so requested this debate the hopefully these three council members were privy to read the report prior to the executive session, which I'm saying certainly is a disservice to the people of Troy."

Councilor Coleen Paratore says Mayor Madden let all members know they were welcome to come in and read the report. 

"There was no cover-up, there is no conspiracy," Paratore said. "Patrick Madden has, to my way of thinking, and I'm intimately involved in this as I'm chairing the law committee, has conducted himself in a completely admirable way. All of that said, I'll reiterate for you what I said yesterday. This is three years now. A man is dead. That was a tragedy and his wife and children and mother deserve a resolution here. It's now before a federal court judge who will decide whether to at on the material presented to him or whether he will turn this over to a jury. I certainly hope for the latter."

Paratore says she doesn't believe the Thevenin case should be factored in as a campaign issue, with Madden up for reelection. She vows to continue to press for body cameras for Troy police.  

"The only audio that I read was Mr. Thevenin saying 'please don't arrest me, I'll lose my job,'" she said. "That's weighing in my mind and heart."

Jaffe says citizens demand transparency.  

"We want our city government to admit that they covered it up and that they lied," Jaffe said. "We want discipline for this officer. We don't want him on our streets anymore. We think that Mayor Madden has refused responsibility in this cover-up and we are demanding that he end the cover-up, that he release the most recent report which he has concealed from the public and that he resign and withdraw from the mayoral race."

A city hall spokesman for Mayor Madden referred a request for comment to the Madden campaign, which could not be reached.

Residents are gathering at 6:15 p.m. outside Troy City Hall and plan to attend the city council meeting afterward.

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