In Justice Today reports a New York State grand jury indicted Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel E. Abelove on charges of official misconduct and perjury on Friday afternoon. The indictment stems from Abelove’s concealment of evidence about the shooting of an unarmed black man by a Troy police officer, and allegations that Abelove lied during a subsequent investigation.
According to the indictment, Abelove repeatedly interfered with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s efforts to investigate the killing of 37-year-old Edson Thevenin, who was shot eight times by police sergeant Randall French following a traffic stop gone awry.
Schneiderman, under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2015 Executive Order, is required to investigate and, if warranted, criminally prosecute cases in which police have killed unarmed civilians in New York state. In the immediate aftermath of Thevenin’s death, Schneiderman’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit, requested that Abelove’s office provide copies of the investigative files about the shooting. Abelove, however, pointedly prevented progress in Schneiderman’s investigation.
“As we allege, District Attorney Abelove’s actions violated the law and undermined a criminal investigation,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The Governor’s Executive Order was designed to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system — yet the actions we detail today only served to further erode that confidence.”
The case argues that Abelove, a Republican, explicitly tried to get the police officer to escape culpability for his actions by jamming up Schneiderman’s efforts and even lied to a grand jury about his deplorable behavior. The evidence is pretty compelling; it looks like Abelove didn’t care about the truth or justice—he just wanted police sergeant Randall French to get away with killing 37-year-old Edson Thevenin.
If found guilty, Abelove faces up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. He’s also up for re-election next year