Ellazar Williams announced Monday he is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging excessive force when he was shot by an Albany Police Detective in the West Hill neighborhood in August.
The lawsuit names three Albany Police detectives, and Williams is now seeking significant damages from the department. His attorney tells Spectrum News that Williams was not a threat to officers, and cited surveillance video of the shooting.
"I think that it represents the most severe overuse of police force to shoot someone who is fleeing," said Williams' attorney, James Knox.
Knox says the surveillance video shows the 19-year-old getting shot in the back while running away from police, after falling and getting back up.
"We have no information [to] suggest that Williams committed any criminal offense at any point; not at the store where the 911 call came from or during his pursuit by police," Knox said.
In August, Detectives James Olsen, Christopher Cornell, and Lawrence Heid chased Williams through the city's West Hill neighborhood after a disturbance at a store where witnesses said he had a gun. No gun was ever found.
According to Detective Olsen, Williams came toward him with a knife and he shot the teen out of fear for his life.
"They appear to say that Williams got up and turned and ran toward Olsen. The video clearly contradicts that," Knox said.
A lawsuit filed Monday claims Williams was being chased by police without cause, and accuses Detectives Cornell and Heid of failing to intervene. Knox says his client presented no threat to police or anyone else at the time he was shot.
In response to the lawsuit, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins shared his views on the case.
"The work by the men and women in carrying out that investigation was done with diligence and I am satisfied with their findings. The Albany County District Attorney’s Office also conducted an investigation into the incident and presented the facts to the Grand Jury."
Last week, that grand jury cleared Detective Olsen of any criminal wrongdoing for his actions, but Williams is now seeking significant damages.
"We have spent many hours with Mr. Williams in his home and to watch someone deal with the day-to-day needs of life - getting dressed, taking care of one's own body, even eating and drinking - all of these things you and I take for granted are rendered enormous tasks that he must get through," Knox said.
Police have also released a version of the video showing the incident, but this version has been enhanced to show a clearer image.
They say Williams will still face charges of felony menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.