The former Rensselaer County district attorney went on trial Tuesday in connection with an officer-involved shooting death of Edson Thevenin.
Joel Abelove was met with demonstrators calling for "justice for Edson" when his trial gets underway.
The county's ex-top prosecutor is fighting charges of perjury and official misconduct, stemming from his handling of the fatal police shooting of Thevenin in 2016. The Black man was killed during a DWI traffic stop during which police said he pinned an officer with a car.
A report by then-New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman suggested the officer was not pinned prior to those first shots being fired through the windshield.
The officer involved, Troy Police Sgt. Randall French, who has since died, was cleared of any wrongdoing by Abelove shortly after the incident. But prosecutors said Abelove did not present adequate evidence.
The former prosecutor is also accused of allowing French to testify before a grand jury without having waived immunity, which means he never could have been charged in the case.
This set the stage for a showdown of sorts between Abelove and the attorney general's office, which is charged with investigating fatal officer-involved shootings. After a review of the case, it was the attorney general who officially filed charges against Abelove.
The trial is a bench trial, meaning there will be no jury.
“Instead of using the grand jury process to seek truth and promote justice. Joel Abelove exploited the grand jury process to hide the truth and pervert justice,” said Jennifer Sommers of the attorney general’s office’s prosecutions unit.
Abelove is due back in court Wednesday. He has maintained his innocence and says he believes he acted within the means of his position.
Advocates and demonstrators gathered at his court appearance as they continue to call for justice for Thevenin.