Man paralyzed in 2018 Albany police shooting can continue lawsuit

Man paralyzed in 2018 Albany police shooting can continue lawsuit

ALBANY – Ellazar Williams can transfer ahead along with his extreme pressure lawsuit in opposition to the now-retired Albany police detective who shot him throughout a 2018 foot chase, leaving Williams paralyzed from the chest down.

In a 35-page ruling Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn rejected arguments that retired detective James Olsen ought to be shielded from the civil go well with by certified immunity, which may exclude authorities staff from litigation .

The decide’s ruling will enable Williams, 19 on the time of the shooting, to proceed with a lawsuit filed in December 2018 that named the detective, in addition to the town of Albany, as defendants. Documents filed in the almost four-year courtroom case included a transcript of Olsen’s once-secret grand jury testimony that cleared him of any felony wrongdoing. He indicated that Olsen was allowed to inform the grand jury about his “lifesaving medals.”

On August 20, 2018, Olsen and two different detectives have been dispatched to discover a man armed with a gun who, in line with a 911 caller, was threatening folks at a grocery retailer in the 200 block of Central Avenue. Olsen later adopted Williams right into a courtyard of the previous Tony Clement Education Center at 395 Elk Street. This is the place his model of occasions and Williams’ account diverge sharply.

Olsen, a 22-year veteran of the Albany pressure, advised the grand jury that he requested Williams to drop a “Rambo-style knife,” that he requested Williams to remain down, that Williams rearmed the knife and ran towards him, main him to fireplace two pictures.

“What was your aim when you fired the gun?” Then-Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi requested Olsen through the Dec. 14, 2018, grand jury continuing.

“To stop the threat,” Olsen replied.

Williams confronted costs of threatening a police officer and felony possession of a weapon, however these have been dropped.

In a deposition on Jan. 21, 2021, Williams admitted to having a knife for cover, however stated he by no means drew it. Stephen Rehfuss, an legal professional representing the town that ousted Williams, requested him what he remembered from the yard in the ultimate seconds earlier than he was shot.

“Seeing a black gate, then everything goes black,” Williams replied. He stated he would not keep in mind being shot.

Williams’ attorneys say their consumer ran away from Olsen, not towards him. They stated he was shot in the again.

“Simply put, no reasonable officer would believe that probable cause was supported that Ellazar Williams posed an immediate and significant threat of death
or serious physical injury to Detective Olsen or others,” Julie Nociolo, considered one of Williams’ attorneys, stated in a memo to Kahn in June asking him to permit the lawsuit to proceed. “No officer could believe in reasonably that he or she faced an immediate problem of significant threat of death or serious physical injury to himself, herself, or others to justify the shooting of Ellazar Williams.”

In his ruling Tuesday, Kahn defined that he should discover in favor of the plaintiff, Williams. The decide stated he discovered some points may very well be determined by a civil jury. They included whether or not Williams was armed, whether or not Williams ignored Olsen’s instructions, which course Williams ran and the gap between Williams and Olsen when the detective fired the pictures, he stated.

The decide stated an inexpensive jury may discover that Williams was trapped in the yard with no solution to escape when, with out warning, Olsen fired after Williams’ again was turned.

“Furthermore, a jury could consider (Williams’) testimony and video evidence that (Williams) never brandished a weapon during the pursuit,” Kahn stated, “From this evidence, the court finds that there is a genuine dispute of fact material if (Williams) posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others.”

An Albany County grand jury cleared Olsen of any wrongdoing in December 2018. That adopted a 16-week investigation by Albany County District Attorney David Soares’ workplace.

Grand jury testimony is secret until it’s offered in open courtroom or cited in public paperwork, similar to this case. The transcript of Olsen’s grand jury testimony in courtroom paperwork confirmed that on the finish of Olsen’s testimony, Rossi knowledgeable Olsen that Olsen’s legal professional, who on the time was Michael McDermott, needed Rossi to query Olsen about any reward that the detective had obtained for braveness and bravado. or excellent service.

“Is that something you want to talk about? Is there anything else you want to tell the grand jury?” the prosecutor requested Olsen, who rapidly obliged.

“I got, you know, a lot of awards, lifesaving medals,” Olsen replied. Olsen stated he and Detective Lawrence Heid, one of many different detectives chasing Williams, as soon as “caught like four people jumping from the second floor of a burning building.”

Olsen added that he obtained a number of accolades for his work, which he famous included “awards for murders that seemed unsolved, and we were fortunate enough to make an arrest… I’ve been a part of over 60 homicide investigations . . . I’ve been a part of hundreds of search warrants where you obviously don’t know what’s on the other side of that door, and I’m always the first person to go in.”


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