DA Hands Troy Police Shooting Case To AG

May 10, 2016

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has withdrawn his lawsuit against Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove stemming from the police shooting death of an area man. 

On April 17, Troy Police Sgt. Randall French shot and killed 37-year old motorist Edson Thevenin, who allegedly was driving while intoxicated and fled a traffic stop.   Police say Thevenin drove his car at and pinned French against a patrol cruiser. French fired eight shots, fatally wounding Thevenin.  A grand jury was convened and quickly decided not to indict French, a 12-year veteran of the force.

Shortly after, Schneiderman proclaimed that DA Abelove defied Governor Andrew Cuomo's executive order directing the AG to handle investigations into any cases where an unarmed civilian is shot by police.

Schneiderman filed suit against the DA in an effort to take control of the case the case.

Before things reached a point that would have required intervention by higher powers, the two sides came to an accord:  the DA’s office agreed to hand over its files. Private attorney John Bailey was hired to represent the DA. "That was done this morning.  9 o'clock or thereabouts this morning. His sealed file was turned over, and it is now in the control and custody of the attorney general, and it is up to the attorney general to follow the proper procedures, which I'm sure they will, to have the file unsealed, so that they can look at what's inside."

Bailey notes the attorney general chose to enter into a settlement with DA Abelove. "And the settlement says nothing, absolutely nothing about my client behaving inappropriately, illegally, without authority, without jurisdiction. It simply says nothing about that."

Eric Soufer, a spokesman for Schneiderman, wrote in an email: “We are pleased that DA Ableove acquiesced to each and every one of our legal demands, mooting the lawsuit we filed against him two weeks ago. As part of the agreement, DA Abelove relinquished any and all claims to jurisdiction in this case, and will turn over all files related to the Thevenin investigation to the attorney general’s office. The agreement does not exonerate DA Abelove for any potential claims of misconduct. Our investigation into this case is ongoing.”

Attorney Bailey doesn't think it likely any further action will be taken against his client:  "If the attorney general was so sure of his position, then I think he would have llitigated it to the end, and I think if he was so sure of himself, he would have obtained an order, declaring that Mr. Abelove did not have the jurisdiction, that the grand jury was improperly convened, and that the determination of the grand jury was annullity. He chose to back away from doing that."

A grand jury could be re-convened at the AG's discretion.