Prosecutor in NY charged for withholding evidence

NY State AG Schneiderman has filed criminal charges against a county district attorney over his handling of a grand jury investigation into the fatal police shooting of an unarmed motorist last year. According to the NY Times, Joel Abelove, the district attorney in Rensselaer County, was charged with a single felony count of perjury in the first degree and two counts of official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor.

The case against the prosecutor stems from the death of a driver who was shot after a car chase involving a traffic stop on suspicion of drunken driving. The chase ended with a Troy police sergeant, Randall French, shooting the driver eight times, killing him, after the officer was pinned between his cruiser and the driver’s vehicle.

Shortly after the shooting, the NY Attorney General sent in a “Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit” to look into the driver’s death. Rather than cooperating with state investigators, Mr. Abelove is alleged to have “quickly and surreptitiously presented the case to a grand jury,” according to Mr. Schneiderman’s office. Mr. Abelove then is accused of having withheld evidence from the grand jury, leading to no charges being brought against the police officer. The district attorney had also conferred immunity upon Sergeant French before the grand jury voted, effectively protecting the officer from any potential future prosecution in the killing. Finally, in October, Mr. Abelove lied about another immunity case in testimony to a separate grand jury, according to the indictment filed in Rensselaer County Supreme Court.

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