© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Troy City Council Approves $1.55 Million Settlement

The Troy City Council met Thursday evening over Zoom
City of Troy/Zoom
YouTube/Image capture by WAMC
The Troy City Council met Thursday evening over Zoom

The Troy city council has approved a $1.55 million settlement with the family of Edson Thevenin, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in 2016.

Edson Thevenin was killed by Troy Police Sergeant Randall French in April 2016, and for the last five-and-a-half years, residents and family members have been seeking answers from the city.

The Troy City Council without discussion Thursday night approved the settlement with Thevenin’s widow.

French, who died of COVID-19 last year, was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury five days after the shooting, but the alleged fast-tracking by then-Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove drew scrutiny from the office of then state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

A report from the AG’s office found French’s testimony unreliable, the Troy Police Department’s investigation insufficient, and made several policy recommendations. Abelove was charged with official misconduct in connection with the incident and was later acquitted.

In a 2018 internal affairs investigation leaked to the press in 2019, French was found to have lied about the events of the case, when he intentionally placed himself in front of Thevenin’s car as he fired into the vehicle’s windshield, killing the 36-year-old who was later confirmed to be intoxicated.

A memorandum from the city administration in support of the settlement with Thevenin’s family called the shooting justified, laying no blame on Sgt. French or Thevenin.

During a Troy City Council Finance Committee meeting on August 19th, Thevenin’s mother Gertha Dupas addressed the council.

“No amount of money will rid you, Troy, New York, of the blame. Or make me feel stop in pursuit of justice for my son. And thinking that a meager settlement is humane…that statement about a humane, to pay the settlement for my son…it’s a heart-wrenching…it’s almost like a stab in the heart because there’s no amount of money that could justify my son’s death, especially when justice is not being done,” said Dupas.

The statement was drafted by Troy City Attorney Rick Morrissey.

During that meeting, after nearly an hour or similar comments, Councilmember Sue Steele of the Democratic majority asked Morrissey if in the future he would clarify that such memorandums do not reflect the position of the city council.

No amendments or changes were made to the memorandum in support of the settlement.

But the settlement has not ended questions related to the case.

Bob Blackmon is President of the Justice Center of Rensselaer County.

“The Justice Center has not objected to the settlement itself. Our preference probably would have been that it go to trial because at trial more facts would have come out about the case, and frankly, I think the city would have lost,” said Blackmon.

Blackmon and others want to see Democratic Troy Mayor Patrick Madden release a reportthat the mayor has claimed disputes the findings of the 2018 internal investigation that found French lied about the encounter with Thevenin. The review of the internal investigation was completed by a former Glenville police chief.

Again, Bob Blackmon.

“We’re beginning to wonder if it really refutes the internal investigation report to the extent that he claims because otherwise it seems to me that he would have released it already. But nevertheless he has said repeatedly that he would release that report as soon as the case is settled. Well, it’s now settled so we look forward to being able to see that report, and that’s the piece of the puzzle that is missing right now,” said Blackmon.

Asked about the release of further documentation, Troy Communications Director John Salka said by email:

“Further document disclosure must await completion of the settlement by the court."

A statement from Mayor Madden released upon reaching the settlement in August reads:

“We are satisfied to reach a mutually-agreed upon settlement in this tragic case and hope it will help bring closure to the families, the City, and all involved parties. We thank the Court for facilitating a full and final resolution between the plaintiffs and the defendants.”

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.
Related Content