Attorney General Eric Schneiderman spoke to a full court on Monday for Law Day, mentioning the executive order he's utilizing for a controversial case in the Capital Region.
"We believe that the independent, transparent process that's been established for these cases is a very practical solution that can serve as a national model restoring public confidence in these very difficult and important cases," Schneiderman said. "The people of Troy, the family, and the Troy Police department frankly have a right to a thorough investigation and that's what we're going to do."
That investigation involves Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove in the case of a Troy police officer fatally shooting Edson Thevenin after police say he pinned the officer between two cars. Executive Order 147 grants the attorney general jurisdiction over cases in which a police officer fatally shoots someone. A question raised in this case is whether the suspect was armed and dangerous.
"Under some circumstances under our criminal law an automobile can be used as a weapon. The point of the executive order, and it's very explicit on this point, is that I have jurisdiction as Special Prosecutor to supersede a district attorney when a law enforcement officer kills someone who is armed or if there is a serious question as to if they were armed," Schneiderman said.
Following the attorney general's lawsuit against DA Abelove for not handing over the case, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an amendment to the executive order to specifically include Thevenin's case. The attorney general says that's protocol for the executive order and just solidifies his right to handle this case as special prosecutor.
"The idea here is to get it right and to have the right prosecutor pursuing it and our primary concern was that our jurisdiction was not respected and the governor's order was violated," he said.
Abelove presented the case to a grand jury five days after the fatal shooting. The officer involved was cleared of any charges, and the attorney general isn't saying whether that could change once his office takes over. He remains firm that this case is now his to prosecute if he chooses, and it's an ongoing investigation once again.
"We are scheduled to be in court on Friday and I am confident that the court will insist that he turn over the files. Our jurisdiction under the executive order could not be clearer," Schneiderman said.