A policeman shot an unarmed man, claiming he feared for his life. The states attorney general wanted to investigate. But a local prosecutor allegedly intervened to save the cop from a trial.”>
The night before he died, Edson Thevenin curled up to watch Star Wars with his kids at their apartment in Watervliet, New York. It was a Saturday in April, and the 37-year-old father of two realized it was getting late. At 9:30 p.m., he got dressed for his brothers birthday, kissed his family goodbye, and headed out the door.
They would never see him again.
Hours later, Thevenin would be shot dead. The Troy cop who killed him fired eight rounds from his service weapon into the windshield of Thevenins car, after a DWI stop allegedly turned into a short-lived police chase.
Police say Thevenin tried to strike Sgt. Randall French with his vehicle, then fled. During the pursuit, Thevenin allegedly attempted to make a U-turn onto the Collar City Bridge and smashed into a barrier. Moments later, police cruisers boxed him in to prevent an escape, and French exited his car to make an arrest.
What happened next isnt entirely clear. Authorities claim Thevenin drove toward French and pinned his legs against his patrol vehicle, and thats when French, defending his life, sprayed the devoted dad with bullets. Cops allege Thevenin used his vehicle as a weapon and that French had no other choice.
But one civilian witness claims French fired first and Thevenins car, as a result of its drivers fatal injury, rolled forward.
Thevenin, who was unarmed, died at the scene.
On Thursday, the Times Union reported the AGs office asked Gov. Cuomo for authority to pursue a formal investigation into Abelove himself over the Thevenin shooting. Its unclear if the governor gave the green light to the request.
Abelove has also been accused of pursuing charges against political enemies while declining to indict his allies; and of allowing dozens of cases to fall by the wayside even as he seeks to make a name as a tough-on-crime public servant.
Among Abeloves first orders of business was to decline prosecution of a political ally, Martin Reid, chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature. State investigators discovered Reid snagged more than $15,000 in unemployment while collecting a $30,000-a-year government salary, and turned the case over to the Rensselaer County DAs office. Months later, after Abelove declined the chance to prosecute, the attorney general announced it was prosecuting Reid, who in September pleaded guilty.
Abelove told The Daily Beast that when he took office, he believed the AGs office would take on Reids prosecution, as they generally handle these types of cases. A former employee, however, said in court papers that Abelove received the Reid case during his transition into office and asked Carmelo Laquidara, his election opponent and a chief assistant district attorney, to close it.
In an e-mail, Abelove countered the employees claim. The case was never referred to me, and I therefore had no case to drop, Abelove told The Daily Beast. The NYS Department of Labor referred the case to the AG, who in fact prosecuted Mr. Reid.
Abelove also dropped charges against local GOP operative Richard Crist, who helped him secure a primary win on the Independence Party line, the Times Union reported. Crist was facing child endangerment charges over an alleged encounter with his 17-year-old son.
According to the Times Union, Abelove didnt recuse himself from the case despite Crists work on his campaign. He told The Daily Beast his office declined to prosecute Crist because child protective services found the complaint to be unfounded.
Meanwhile, Abelove appears to have no trouble prosecuting foes.
In October, he filed misdemeanor charges against former prosecutor Shane Hug in a convoluted case that local attorneys say reeks of political payback. Hug, a registered Democrat who prosecuted high-profile murder cases, is accused of leaking a 911 call made by a Republican mayoral candidates wife during a domestic dispute. Also facing charges are a retired police detective and former DA investigator. All three have denied the accusations against them.
This is a petty prosecution brought for personal and political reasons by the most ethically challenged district attorney in Rensselaer County in my lifetime, Trey Smith, Hugs attorney, told the Times Union when they were charged in October 2016.
Earlier this month, the Times Union revealed that three violent feloniesincluding the assault of a police officer, a home invasion and a terroristic threat to burn a churchwere dismissed after Abeloves office failed to indict the defendants. We are conducting a review of the situation. But at the time, the situation is not a reflection of the entire office, Abelove told the newspaper.
The corruption allegations swirling around Abeloves office did little to assure Thevenins kin that justice was served in his killing.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Cinthia Thevenin said she was awaiting the outcome of the attorney generals probe.
We just want the truththats all, said Thevenin, Edsons wife and mother to his 4- and 9-year-old boys. The way they are describing my husband is not the man he was. We just want the truth to come out.