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Albany Police: state AG drops investigation into car crash death of 13-year-old

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

The New York State Attorney General’s Office is declining to investigate a crash that killed 13-year-old Tea'Shawn Walker of Albany earlier this month.

Albany Police Commander Joshua Laiacona told the Albany Community Police Review Board Thursday that the investigation had been dropped:

“The Attorney General’s office today notified us that they will not be looking into this, that it doesn’t raise to the standards that would have them take over the investigation,” said Laiacona.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Tish James says her office determined it did not have jurisdiction, citing New York Executive Law Section 70-b, which states the AG’s Special Investigations unit only has jurisdiction to investigate an incident "in which a police officer caused or may reasonably have caused the death of a person."

The crash occurred downtown on April 4th.

Walker's aunt, Nateasha Walker, told Newschannel 13 her nephew was a passenger in a vehicle with five others ranging in age from 13 to 15. She claims the teen didn't know the vehicle was stolen. She told WNYT that in the hours before the crash she had texted the teen permission to spend time with friends.

"I look at this text over and over again because so many texts I say no, no, no, come on we're going to do this, we're going to do that, but this one time I say yes, and this occurs," Walker said.

Police say they attempted to intercept the car before it crashed in the city's Arbor Hill neighborhood.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares says his office will continue its probe of the incident.

"Because this was a crash and there was a loss of life, the Attorney General's office has primary jurisdiction, where the scope of their investigation is to determine whether or not that loss of life came at as a result of the conduct of the police," Soares said. "And therefore their scope is limited there. Where the district attorney's scope is investigating the crash, investigating, you know, the circumstances that resulted in the death, and the Attorney General's office has primary jurisdiction when they conduct their investigation, and they've determined that the death was not a result of conduct by the police. They will often inform us so that we can continue to pursue our investigation and that's what happened yesterday."

Walker's aunt says she was told her nephew wanted to get out of the car.

"Let me just get out of this car. I gotta go home. I'm gonna get in touble," Walker said.

According to officials, the driver of the vehicle refused to stop and fled before striking another motorist. The vehicle continued on before coming to a rest near a building.

Young Walker was laid to rest this week.

The two Albany Police officers involved in the pursuit were placed on administrative leave as part of normal procedure. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

The Albany City School District says Walker was a student at William S. Hackett Middle School.

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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