Albany County Grand Jury Returns No Bill In Use Of Force Incident | WAMC

Albany County Grand Jury Returns No Bill In Use Of Force Incident

Dec 14, 2018

An Albany County Grand Jury has cleared an Albany Police detective of any criminal wrongdoing in the Ellazar Williams shooting case.

Back in September, the Albany Police Department cleared Detective James Olsen of any wrongdoing in the August 20th shooting that left 19-year-old Ellazar Williams paralyzed from the waist down.

Friday, an Albany County Grand Jury returned a No Bill of Indictment in the case after hearing from witnesses and reviewing evidence related to the shooting.  Police say Olsen shot Williams near Elk Street after Williams, who fit the description of a possible gunman given in a 9-1-1 call, ran away from an unmarked car carrying Olsen and two other detectives.

A lengthy power point with video shown to reporters at District Attorney David Soares' office shows the car caught up with Williams, and as Olsen pursued him on foot Williams dropped a knife. Police say Williams then ran toward Olsen, who fired two shots, one hitting Williams in the shoulder.

Soares, a Democrat, says the Grand Jury considered all of the evidence presented over a span of three weeks and weighed all of the factors to determine justification for Detective Olsen’s actions, ultimately finding that his actions fell within the limits of the law.   "I understand that the community at large has arrived at an opinion. I understand that here are law enforcement agencies too that have arrived at an opinion and they share their conclusions. We're not bound by those conclusions. Hence the independence. We are separate agencies. We conducted our own investigation and based upon our findings, those were the findings that were presented to the grand jury and today is the result."

Center For Law and Justice Executive Director Alice Green has been critical of the case from the get-go and says the community is not satisfied and many questions remain unanswered. She criticized Soares' press conference.   "He wasn't forthcoming and simply talking about what the grand jury decided. There's something wrong here and I don't know how we're going to get the true story. That's what we're interested in, the truth. I'm not accusing anybody of anything but we in the community do not have the true story of what happened to Ellazar."

Soares said he called the press conference to be as transparent as possible.   "At some point in the future we will also be engaging the community with respect to the events that have transpired today and we will sharing the same information with members of the community if there is an interest there in doing so."

Soares denied Green the opportunity to ask a question after he opened the room to questions from reporters. He later suggested her group "call a forum and invite him" and he would discuss it.