As mayor and chief conclude shooting was justified, advocates fault Albany Police for stopping 32-year-old
Protestors rallied in Albany Sunday at the site where police shot a Morris Street man who charged at them with a knife a week ago.
Saratoga Black Lives Matter led a demonstration Sunday afternoon in Albany at the lower New Scotland Avenue parking lot where 32-year-old Jordan Young was shot early January 24th by police.
They’re calling for the resignation of Chief Eric Hawkins and Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who say body cam footage shown to reporters and city officials last week shows the shooting was justified.
As the crowd chanted, activists handed out leaflets demanding justice for Young, whose encounter with police began when officers spotted him walking his dog near the area of Madison and New Scotland Avenues and tried to question him.
Saratoga Black Lives Matter leader Lexis Figuereo says the community wants answers.
“We also want an investigation of APD from maybe the Attorney General's office, or independent review, that's not tied to APD," Figuereo said. "We don't trust when APD investigates APD, plain and simple. So yeah, we're here to also make sure that when there is mental health calls, that police are not involved at all, once again, this story doesn't make any sense to us. They said they were going to a home invasion, where somebody had a gun to their head. Then they said there was people jumping off roofs that were running out of that house, this man was walking his dog, walking around. So why was he stopped in the beginning? That's what we want to know. And if there was a Caucasian man walking his dog down the street, what do you have been stopped by the police? I don't believe so.”
In a statement, Young’s family says he suffered mental health issues known to police.
Family spokesperson Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Alice Green says authorities created the crisis that led to the shooting.
"Mr. Young has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is bipolar, and the police department knew him long before this and they knew that he was disabled," Green Said. "They report that Mr. Young was on his cell phone speaking with his niece, which suggested there was no legal reason for them to stop him."
Green says the family also questions police reports that Young held the knife to the throat of his dog Shep at the time he was stopped. Police footage shows Young ran toward officers while clutching the knife and ignored commands to drop it.
Figuereo says he wants to see the complete video.
“My thought was that the officer could have deescalate the situation by simply not messing with him in the beginning," said Figuereo. "We didn't see any knife in his hand before the police officers went over there to him. And we'll say it again that he had a history with APD; had it been a citizen of our community who had no history at all, APD, and out of nowhere, he just starts charging out a police officer, we would say, hey, maybe, maybe you should be stopped. Maybe you could tackle him. He didn't have a gun in his hand.”
After the rally, protestors marched down Madison Avenue to South Station, where they staged a smaller demonstration on Young's behalf.
Speaking with WAMC Sunday, Mayor Sheehan defended the police department’s handling of the issue, but acknowledged a need for more mental health services.
"Police departments are overloaded and burdened with responding to these calls, when in fact, people need treatment," said Sheehan. "People need help, and they're not getting that help. And that is a failure of our healthcare system. And so I would, you know, happily join anyone who is demanding that this crisis be addressed, because it has gone on for far too long, and it is resulting in tragic consequences for the loved ones of those who are trying to get help for their family member who may be suffering from a mental health issue. And I also want to stress the overwhelming majority of people who are struggling with mental health issues are not violent and do not engage in violent acts.”
Chief Hawkins says APD has successfully resolved “nearly 9,000 of these sorts of incidents over the last three years, using training, community policing and de-escalation.”
Green says Young continues to recover at Albany Medical Center, where a third surgery, this time to repair a damaged liver, was considered a success. He has yet to be charged by police.