Local protests have continued in Albany, N.Y., since Donald “Dontay” Ivy died in police custody April 2 after having a Taser used on him when he was stopped as he walked home from a nearby corner store.
Reports say three Caucasian APD cops, Joshua Sears, Michael Mahany and Charles Skinkle, confronted the unarmed 39-year-old Black man at approximately 12:36 a.m. on Lark Street near Second Street because he exhibited “suspicious behavior” and became “highly aggressive.”
A physical altercation ensued and police deployed the Taser, which had little effect, causing Ivy to run several blocks with police in pursuit. Once apprehended and handcuffed, cops said he suffered an apparent medical emergency, lost consciousness and died on the sidewalk approximately 50 yards shy of his sisters’ home on Second Street and approximately two blocks from the store.
Police then allegedly administered CPR and called emergency medical services to the scene. He was taken to Albany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
“There’s a lot of missing information right now,” said Ivy’s cousin Celestal Hightower, saying she’s not going to criticize cops, but she wants to know what happened. “We just want to wait until everything is presented to us and then maybe there will be satisfaction, maybe not. We don’t know until it is all presented. So that’s what we’re waiting for.”
Acting Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox said an autopsy has been conducted but declined to reveal the results until toxicology tests are completed, which could take a couple more weeks. No weapons were found on Ivy.
Relatives said Ivy was on a number of medications at the time and described him as a “paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from heart problems and sought to avoid people, preferring to travel deserted streets in the off-hours.”
The family wants answers. “They only told us he looked suspicious,” said Chamberlain Guthrie, Ivy’s cousin. “They haven’t given us any details about why they stopped him, why they handcuffed him or why they Tased him.”
“He didn’t bother nobody,” recalled Abdo Altiri, owner of R&J Grocery & Deli at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Lark Street, where Ivy stopped that night. “He didn’t give me no problem,” adding that police awakened him in his apartment above the store around 2 a.m. that morning, and copied the data from the store’s digital surveillance system.
Altiri’s 12-year-old son, Mohamed, recalled Ivy as being mild-mannered with some odd behavior. “He kind of muttered to himself sometimes … but he was a nice guy.”
An internal investigation has been launched.
Albany Mayor Kathleen Sheehan, attended the April 13 funeral, saying, “It’s a tragic result. My condolences go out to the family.”
Ivy’s relatives did not participate in last Friday’s march that drew more than 200 protesters who chanted angry anti-police slogans.
“If there’s no video, it’s your word against the officer’s when cops cross the line,” Guthrie said. “This is nothing new for people of color. Donald was not someone you’d ever want to fight with. He was so easygoing you just wanted to give him a hug.”