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Troy Residents Protest Grand Jury Decision In Police Shooting Case

Protesters speak in Troy outside police headquarters
Lucas Willard
Protesters speak in Troy outside police headquarters

Earlier this week it was revealed that there would be no charges in a non-fatal officer-involved shooting in Troy last summer. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, the family and friends of the man who was shot rallied today for justice.

“No justice, no peace! Indict the cop that shot Dahmeek!”

Protesters gathered outside Troy Police Headquarters Wednesday, two days after word came that a grand jury cleared Officer Jarrod Iler of any wrongdoing in the 2017 shooting of Dahmeek McDonald.

McDonald, then 22 years old, was shot by Officer Iler on the side of his head during a traffic stop. McDonald, who was known to police, was wanted for absconding from parole. He was unarmed.

McDonald survived. Iler was placed on administrative leave as police and the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s office began their investigation.

Bowing to community pressure, District Attorney Joel Abelove, who was indicted by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over his handling of a grand jury investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man – Edson Thevenin – in 2016, turned the investigation over to Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney.

The charges against Abelove were dismissed in June. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced that she would appeal the dismissal.

The statement released by Carney’s office on Monday said the grand jury found Officer Iler’s actions against McDonald were justified.

McDonald’s uncle, Messiah Cooper, spoke to the protesters through a megaphone.

“We don’t want the killer cop in our community. We don’t want the attempted murderer in our community. We don’t want any bad cop in our community. It’s a recipe for a mess,” said Cooper.

One of the ongoing demands from the community on the issue of police-involved shootings is the re-establishment of a community police review board.

“Mayor of Troy! Where’s the review board? Mayor of Troy! Where’s the review board?”

Police at the peaceful protest handed water bottles to rally-goers and blocked off traffic.

Among those speaking to the crowd was Jamaica Miles. Miles, who hails from Schenectady, is an organizer through progressive group Citizen Action NY.

“We are all connected. Whether we are in Schenectady, Albany, Troy, and across the nation, we are seeing the same systemic and institutional injustice that Troy faces every single day,” said Miles. “And we say no more!”

The criminal justice process in the case is closed following the grand jury decision.

McDonald’s attorney, Mark Mishler, said he was “dismayed by not surprised” by the outcome.

Mishler criticized the decision to bring the case to a grand jury, a system he says typically favors police. 

“It has the impact of giving, essentially, immunity to police officers who use deadly physical force. And it’s wrong, it’s unjust, and it prevents the public from, ever really having the opportunity in a public manner to analyze the facts, see the evidence, and for there to be a public trial where the police officer’s guilt or innocence would be determined in public,” said Mishler.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden released a statement Monday that says in part, “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.”

Chief Brian Owens, who was sworn in in February, has declined to comment.

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