ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. - New York's attorney general will investigate the death of a teenager who was shot by police near Syracuse last week. The teenager's family members hired their own attorney to conduct an independent probe into his death last Thursday.
The office of Attorney General Letitia James announced on Tuesday that the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is looking into the killing of Judson Albahm, 17, whose mother called 911 on March 4 for a mental health check of her son.
Officers from the Onondaga County sheriff's office, the New York State Police, and the DeWitt Police Department responded to the family's home in Jamesville, police said. Four officers from the three agencies fired at Albahm after authorities say he pointed what appeared to be a handgun at them. The weapon turned out to be a BB gun made to look like a Glock handgun, authorities said.
Lawyer David Zukher told the Post-Standard that Albahm's family wants to know how a call for help with a mental health crisis ended with the teen's death.
"A terrible thing has happened, and there are questions about why it happened," Zukher told the newspaper. "We're going to start an investigation, and try to shine some light on why this tragedy occurred."
Zukher said Tuesday that the teen's family had no comment on the attorney general's investigation.
Zukher told the Post-Standard that an autopsy on the teenager's body was completed Monday. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, he said.
"The family is devastated at the loss of their child," Zukher said. "Sheer and utter devastation."
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The Post-Standard reported last week that the officers who responded to the 911 call were told that the teen might have "an airsoft gun" and that he had considered "suicide by cop."
"He does own an airsoft gun, unknown if it's with him," a dispatcher said over the police radio. "He has threatened suicide by cops in the past."
Sgt. Jon Seeber, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said in a statement that the three police agencies could not comment.
Under an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015, the state attorney general can investigate some police shootings.
Jamesville is a hamlet less than 10 miles southeast of downtown Syracuse.
New York Attorney General Statement, March 9, 2021
The New York Attorney General's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit has opened an investigation into the death of Judson Albahm, who died on March 4, 2021, following an encounter with law enforcement in Onondaga County, pursuant to the Attorney General's authority under Executive Order No. 147.
Executive Order No. 147 confers upon the Attorney General exclusive authority to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute cases in which a law enforcement officer causes the death of an unarmed civilian, as well as cases in which the Attorney General has determined that there is a significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and dangerous at the time his or her death was caused.
New York State Police Statement, March 4, 2021
These are excerpts from the State Police statement.
The names of the four officers involved who fired their service weapons have been identified as:
- New York State Police, Trooper Corey Fike - 7 years of service
- Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant Amy Bollinger- 20 years of service
- Town of DeWitt Police Department, Investigator Lucas Byron - 11 years of service
- Town of DeWitt Police Department, Investigator Matthew Menard - 5 years of service
At approximately 12:24 PM, Sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and officers with the DeWitt Police Department respond to a residence in the 4300 block of Apulia Road to assist St. Joseph Comprehensive Psychiatric Mobile Crisis Outreach Team with an uncooperative 17 year old male patient. As officers arrived, the male suspect fled on foot armed with what appeared to be a handgun.
As officers approached the suspect, the suspect raised and pointed the weapon at the officers.
The officers discharged their service weapons, striking the suspect, who was pronounced deceased at the scene.