An unarmed, mentally ill African-American man died in police custody in upstate New York, after being tasered by officers. Albany authorities promised a full investigation, while activists have announced a protest.
The family of Donald “Dontay” Ivy, 39, described him as a
paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from heart problems, but kept
to himself and was not violent by nature.
According to the police, three officers approached Ivy at 12:30
at night on Thursday, citing “suspicious activity.” Ivy allegedly
became aggressive, and ran away from the officers, who tasered
and tackled him to the ground. They said he continued to struggle
after being handcuffed. After Ivy lost consciousness, the
officers say they tried to revive him, but without success.
— jamalbryant (@jamalhbryant) April
“I’m still trying to figure out how it escalated,” Ivy’s
first cousin Celestal Hightower told the Albany Times-Union.
“The whole thing just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what
they did. I don’t know how it came about. I just want it to make
“We’re going to do a thorough investigation and we’re going
to get all the answers,” said acting Police Chief Brendan
Cox on Friday. He told reporters that Ivy had been unarmed, but
that the autopsy and toxicology results were still pending.
— Cindy Schultz (@cschultzphoto) April
Cox took over the department last Friday, after the retirement of
Chief Steven Krokoff. The three officers, identified as Michael
Mahany, Joshua Sears and Charles Skinkle, have been placed on
leave until the investigation is concluded.
“I ask that everyone respect the process and await the
results of the investigation,” Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan
said. “Our condolences go out to the family during this
Community activists have called for a protest on Friday night
outside the city police department’s South Station, but Ivy’s
family said they would not be involved.
At the Albany Police South Station where a protest is expected
at 7pm following death of Donald Ivy. pic.twitter.com/esfAZdninm
— Brandon Lewis (@CBS6Brandon) April
“There’s a lot of missing information right now,” said
Hightower. “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.”
READ MORE: Tasers have killed at least 500 Americans
Considered a “non-lethal” weapon, a Taser can discharge upwards
of 50,000 volts. The devices were described as “a form of
torture” provoking “extreme pain” by a 2007 statement by the UN
Committee Against Torture. A February 2012 report by Amnesty
International said over 500 Americans had been killed by Tasers
since 2001. By late 2014, that number has risen to 634, according
to the blog Electronic Village.