We were pleased to see that the New York Times, the nation's paper of record, points out the same issue the Troy Polloi pointed out: District Attorney Abelove's actions are a strong argument for Governor Cuomo's Executive Order granting the Office of the Attorney General jurisdiction over cases of police shootings that involved unarmed civilians.
The New York Times has called for the removal of the Rensselaer County District Attorney:
He hastily took the case before a grand jury — just five days after the shooting — and the jury failed to indict the officer.
News accounts have raised troubling questions about Mr. Abelove’s handling of the case. For example, The Albany Times Union this month reported that Mr. Abelove had failed to call two people who witnessed the episode. The newspaper subsequently reported that Mr. Abelove took the unusual step of giving the police officer immunity in the grand jury proceeding — even though he should have been the subject of the investigation.
Granted, it is only the New York Times. It's not as if it's the New York Post, but the editorial is damning. The Times does not say where Mr. Abelove should be removed to.
Abelove's actions are causing unintended consequences as well:
Joseph Ahearn is seeking County Judge Andrew Ceresia's permission to return to court to question Sgt. Randall French about the fatal wounding of Edson Thevenin in an effort to impeach the officer's credibility as a witness.
Abelove is personally prosecuting the case against Ahearn's client, Jacob Heimroth, who is accused of killing Maria and Allen Lockrow in Lansingburgh in 2014. Heimorth faces first-degree murder and other charges. The district attorney had no comment on Ahearn's motion.
In addition, the Thevenin family has filed a notice of claim for the death of Edson Thevenin. This is not an unusual move and it does not guarantee that a suit will ultimately be filed. However, Abelove's actions have made the success of such a suit much more likely than it would have been had Abelove followed the law.
If Abelove had done what he was supposed to do, Sergeant French may have been cleared without any lingering doubts. There is no reason to doubt French's version of events. There's nothing in the officer's background that would suggest this was anything other than a good shoot.
But then Joel leapt into action. Is it inconceivable that a jury might find the rush to the grand jury as well as the grant of immunity suspicious? Will Joel be called to testify? What an examination that will be:
1) Rush to the Grand Jury in less than a week;
2) No toxicology report;
3) Did not bother to find two witnesses or interview them;
4) Gave the subject of the grand jury immunity from prosecution.
What are they hiding? Probably nothing, which is the real crime here. French did what he was trained to do. If handled correctly this would have gone away. Now, it's a shit sandwich.
Did Abelove think he would curry favor with the PBA? Did he think he would make a name for himself by taking on Governor Cuomo? If the latter, didn't he think it would be better to take on Cuomo from a position of strength, follow the law and then commence your challenge?
The SS Abelove is taking on water. ADA's, we suggest you find a lifeboat before the ship goes down.
The New York Times is right: Abelove needs to resign or he should be removed.
Have a nice weekend.
This episode of Mr. District Attorney brought to you by:
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