Black Disabled Man shot by Albany Police; CPRB to Investigate

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On January 24, 2022, another Black man was shot by police. This time it was Jordan Young, of Albany, New York. Mr. Young was shot by an Albany Police officer. Officers say they had to shoot Mr. Young because he allegedly charged at them with a knife [1]. At this time, Mr. Young is recovering in the hospital [2]. His family and advocates report that they have been prevented from seeing him. To date, Mr. Young has not been charged with a crime.

In October, CDR was part of a campaign in Albany to pass local legislation that would give the Albany Community Police Review Board (CPRB) the power to issue subpoenas and launch independent investigations. The ballot initiative was passed overwhelmingly by Albany voters.

CDR got involved in the #YesOn7 campaign because Disabled people – and particularly BIPOC Disabled people – are more likely to be killed or brutalized by police. Disabled people experiencing mental health crises also have disproportionate contact with the police. According to family members, Mr. Young has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia [3].

As a member of the Community Police Review Board, I reviewed some of the footage immediately after the shooting. It left me with more questions than answers. For instance, I did not see anything in the footage that showed Mr. Young definitively holding a knife.

On February 8, 2022, using our new powers, we voted to launch an independent investigation into the police shooting of Mr. Young.

At the meeting I stated that I wanted the following:
● An accounting of the decision making process regarding allocation of tasers;
● A digital reconstruction of all events – including: location data from any devices in Mr. Young’s possession; associated 911 calls and location data; location data from Body Worn Cameras, cruisers and department issued cell phones for all officers in the Park South neighborhood; data from tasers and body cams; time officer fired rounds at Mr. Young and the time when a second officer deployed the taser; surveillance footage from private and public cameras in the Park South neighborhood.
● More information on the knife Mr. Young allegedly possessed, including chain of custody and Body Worn Camera footage of the knife before and after Mr. Young was shot;
● Information about applicable academy, field training exercises and ongoing training officers receive in defensive tactics, street survival, decision making and implicit bias, stop, question and frisk, officer wellness and emotional survival and nighttime firearms and closed-quarters/hand-to-hand combat; and,
● An explanation about the glitch in the Body Worn Camera footage.

Generally speaking, we place too much of an emphasis on weapons qualification. Officers should spend equally significant time attaining and then maintaining proficiency in combatives. This would include how to disarm and subdue knife-wielding attackers without resorting to lethal force. Academies must also prepare recruits to be skilled in verbal jujitsu and they must then maintain this proficiency.

As we conduct our own independent investigation, CDR reiterates its call [4] on Governor Hochul to expand the composition of the Municipal Law Enforcement Training Council to include multiple representatives from the disability community – facilitated by the Office of the Chief Disability Officer – to ensure that recruits in the academy and police officers are adequately trained on how to identify, interact and communicate with Deaf, DeafBlind and Disabled individuals and people in mental health crisis. The Center also stresses that Disability Awareness and Crisis Intervention Training cannot be a single module new recruits receive at the police academy. Disability Awareness and Crisis Intervention Training must be infused into an entire officer’s career, similar to regular weapons qualification.

Zach Garafalo is CDR’s Manager of Government Relations and a member of the Albany Community Police Review Board.

List of Endnotes

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