Abelove put deadly police shooting before grand jury before probe was done, investigator says
TROY — The lead investigator of the fatal 2016 police shooting of Edson Thevenin testified Wednesday that former Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove put the case before a grand jury before the police department’s probe into the killing was complete.
Capt. Raymond White, the first witness to testify at Abelove’s perjury and official misconduct trial in Rensselaer County Court, said when the case went to a grand jury on April 22, 2016 — five days after Thevenin was killed — investigators had not yet submitted the weapon of the shooter, Sgt. Randall French, for testing.
Investigators also had not yet met with State Police to discuss the case or conducted an accident reconstruction of the incident, which involved a crash, or spoken to a bullet trajectory expert, White said.
French was allowed to testify without waiving immunity, making it impossible for him to ever be charged with Thevenin’s death and the local grand jury cleared him. The sergeant died earlier this year of COVID-19.
Now, Abelove is on trial over how he handled the case and the decision to let French testify with immunity. He is accused of lying to a state grand jury about another Troy officer’s 2015 testimony in an unrelated fatal shooting.
The trial is before Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichols, who will serve as judge and jury in the non-jury case.
On April 17, 2016, French stopped the 37-year-old Thevein in his Honda Civic at about 3:25 a.m., suspecting him of drunken driving. Thevenin fled the scene and an internal investigation later found French used his patrol car to push Thevenin’s vehicle into a concrete barrier near the entrance to the Collar City Bridge.