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Demonstrators Demand Answers As Troy Police Investigate Shooting

Lucas Willard
Demonstrators march down Hoosick Street in Troy, New York. They headed to city hall to protest after 22-year-old Dahmeek McDonald was shot by police on Tuesday.

Dozens of people including family members and friends of a man shot Tuesday night by Troy police marched to city hall today. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports the crowd demanded answers as police continue to investigate the incident.

Things were still tense in the Collar City less than 24 hours after an officer-involved shooting. Dozens of demonstrators marched from the corner of 8th and Rensselaer Streets to the steps of City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The group chanted slogans and sought answers as to why Troy police shot 22-year-old Dahmeek McDonald Tuesday evening after a traffic stop. McDonald was wounded but was expected to survive.

Leading the group at the megaphone was a man who identified himself as McDonald’s uncle.

“He had issues, he was running from parole but that don’t give nobody the right to shoot him. That don’t give anybody the right to shoot him. Now we’re going to City Hall, hopefully the mayor takes notice. If we don’t, we need to shut down his city and let him know that we control this city.”

At a press conference earlier in the day, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco explained that McDonald was struck twice after an officer discharged his weapon during a traffic stop, striking McDonald in the shoulder and grazing his head.

Tedesco said police made the stop after identifying the vehicle. McDonald was accused of violating parole and removing an ankle bracelet.

But what led to the shooting remains under investigation. Tedesco would not comment on whether McDonald had a weapon. The officer who shot McDonald, a five-year member of the force, Jarrod Iler, was placed on administrative leave.

Chief Tedesco said the officers at the scene, including Iler, have yet to be interviewed.

“It goes by our policy that when an officer discharges a weapon in the line of duty, they are automatically given 72 hours off. And then we will judge their ability to return to work at the end of the 72-hour period, and there’s a lot of variables that will go into that,” said Tedesco.

There was no body camera footage of the incident. Tedesco asked the public for assistance in providing footage of the encounter.

McDonald was expected to be released from the hospital and is in custody of the New York State Division of Parole. 

The case is being investigated internally with assistance from Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove.

Tedesco said the New York State Attorney General’s Office, which has oversight responsibility in fatal police encounters with unarmed civilians, has communicated with the police department but is not involved at this time.

Mayor Patrick Madden urged patience as police conduct their investigation.

“I think our obligation to the public is to give them correct answers, not necessarily fast answers. So I would just ask for some patience while  we work through this and I’m confident that the police department is working very methodically though the steps that are necessary,” said Madden.

At City Hall as demonstrators demanded the mayor speak, Madden stepped outside briefly. Family members of McDonald were led inside for a conversation with the mayor.

Hours before the protest, Chief Tedesco commented on the relationship between the city and its force.

“I think we enjoy a very strong relationship with the community,” said Tedesco. “And I think when you look at the previous shootings that we’ve had, especially in light of the mood of the nation that we haven’t had any serious uprisings, I think that speaks a lot for  the relationship between the police department and the community, and I certainly expect that that is going to continue.”

Police have confirmed that McDonald was the same individual who led officers on a wrong-way chase and jumped from the Dunn Memorial Bridge in Rensselaer in 2014.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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