Family members of the Albany man who died after being tased by police earlier this year joined with community activists at city hall today, delivering a list of demands to the mayor’s office.
For the family of Donald Ivy, the day of reckoning is a week away. They've given Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan a deadline to respond to their demands to fire Police Chief Brendan Cox, along with the three officers, Charles Skinkle, Michael Mahany and Joshua Sears, involved in the police action that resulted in Ivy's death back on April 2nd.
A grand jury decided not to charge the officers, leading to an unusually emotional press conference by the district attorney last month. Officials ruled Ivy, who was unarmed and suffered mental illness, died of a heart condition after receiving the taser shock.
Social activist and former Occupy member Bradley Russell says the Ivy case has resonated through every neighborhood and suburb. "When you have Dontay and he can't leave his home on a cold night and walk down the street without his hands clearly visible as a black man in this community and not fear being hassled by the police when he's doing absolutely nothing wrong, it's incredible to me. As sort of a middle-class white male myself, I can walk down any street I want at 12:30 at night on a 23 degree night without my hands clearly visible and there's no police in this town that are gonna stop me and frisk me and hassle me and ultimately beat me, taze me and kill me."
In October, following a review of police videos, a grand jury decided not to indict police. The Ivy family went on local television, stating videos showed officers beating and spitting on Ivy. That moved Albany Police to release the videos, which showed no such incidents. Now, Ivy's Aunt Celinda Okwuofa says the family viewed a different set of videos shown to them by D.A. David Soares. "When Chief Cox refuted what I had stated, my whole family was pretty upset about it, because I'm sure he had seen those videos. And everything that I said, I'm not a liar, everything that I said that I saw on that video, it was about six of my family members in there, so you can bring us all in there and they will attest to the fact that we all saw and heard the same thing."
There is no clear evidence that other videos exist. The District Attorney's office and the Albany Police Department declined to comment. Chief Cox, who was not yet head of the department when the Ivy incident took place, is on record saying the officers will not be fired. The Ivy family has demands according to spokeswoman Angelica Clarke. "We demand the disarmament of the Albany Police, including tasers and firearms. The police have demonstrated repeatedly an inability to appropriately or professionally wield lethal weapons when faced with people of color or individuals with metal illness."
Facing a Nov. 30th deadline from the protesters, Mayor Sheehan was out of the office Monday and could not be reached for comment.