An Albany County Grand Jury has cleared a city policeman for his part in a June fatal shooting by a police officer in Albany. A warning that audio contained in this report could be disturbing to some.
On the night of Friday, June 22nd, Officers Elston Mackey and Derrick Ellis, both two-year veterans of the Albany police force, responded to two 911 domestic violence calls placed by people inside 61 Partridge Street.
The first call was placed by a victim and only screaming could be heard on the call. The second call was placed by the downstairs neighbor, who told the dispatcher that a man with a weapon was on the second floor. "911, what's the address of your emergency? Hello I'm an off-duty paramedic I live at 61 Partridge Street - I heard domestic violence going on upstairs - they guy has a knife."
Upon arrival, the officers were informed by the downstairs neighbor that a woman who appeared to be injured was at the bottom of a stairwell behind a locked door.
Police said officers forced entry and found an unresponsive woman with stab wounds to the neck and face. Medical services were then dispatched to the scene.
While assessing the woman’s condition in the stairwell, 20-year-old Schuyler Lake reportedly walked down the stairs with a knife.
Police say officers told Lake to drop the knife through the broken glass of the door, but Lake refused and approached the woman, who would later be identified as Lake’s 52-year-old mother.
Lake reportedly then stabbed the victim in front of officers, one of whom opened fire on Lake. Then-Acting Chief of Police Robert Sears spoke with WAMC the next morning. "The suspect did pass away on the scene. He was later brought to Albany Medical Center." Lake's mother survived.
Sears, now retired, said all information about the incident was shared with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office. The New York State Attorney General’s Office was also notified per a state policy concerning fatal officer-involved shootings.
District Attorney David Soares announced Friday that an Albany County Grand Jury cleared Officer Mackey of any criminal wrongdoing in relation to the death of Schuyler Lake.
An Albany County Grand Jury returned a No Bill in the case after hearing from witnesses and reviewing evidence, including footage from body cameras both officers were wearing.
Soares says the bodycam video was compelling.
"I think this office took a very aggressive stance in making sure that the police departments are functioning, operating with technology, and as much technology as possible. We are living at a time when quite honestly, you have people using phones, you know you have video surveillance footage at traffic lights. And so, having video and bodycams is very important. It enables us to be more effective in the way that we present our work, but it also helps the public to maintain the kind of confidence that it has in those of us who are in law enforcement."
The DA's office continues to investigate the August 20th shooting that left 19-year-old Ellazar Williams paralyzed from the waist down. The Albany police officer involved in that incident was not wearing a body camera.