RENSSELAER COUNTY, N.Y. — State attorney general Eric Schneiderman is convening a grand jury in his case against Rensselaer County district attorney Joel Abelove, according to a published report.
The report indicated that Schneiderman's office received permission to empanel the grand jury via a signed court order from a state supreme court judge in Albany County. Supreme court clerks said Friday that the signed order had not yet been filed with the county clerk's office.
On September 20, the grand jury will hear the attorney general's case against Abelove, accusing the first-term prosecutor of improper conduct in April 2016. Abelove took over the investigation after a Troy police sergeant shot and killed Edson Thevenin, 37 during an altercation on Hoosick Street. Police said Thevenin, who was shot while sitting in his car, had used the vehicle as a battering ram and attempted to run down at least one officer.
Abelove quickly presented the case before a grand jury, which returned a "no bill" ruling and essentially cleared the sergeant of wrongdoing. Days later, the attorney general's office filed a complaint against Abelove, claiming he had flouted a recently-passed state law which automatically refers police killings of unarmed citizens to the attorney general's office for investigation. Abelove has since countered that Thevenin was not "unarmed," since police reported he had used a vehicle to threaten their safety.
The grand jury in the case will have an opportunity to indict Abelove — which would mark a significant increase in the power of state attorneys general over local district attorneys.
"We don't think [it will happen]," said Abelove's attorney, John Bailey, on Friday. "Any fair-minded grand jury, after listening to the entire story — including my client's — after they hear what he has to say, we're confident that a grand jury is going to return a 'no bill.' "
The state attorney general's office did not offer any comment, and would not confirm the existence of a signed court order on Friday.