On April 17, 2016, Edson Thevenin, a father, son, brother and husband, was killed after a police traffic stop in our Troy community. On the sixth anniversary of his murder, Troy for Black Lives would like to take the opportunity to remember Edson, highlight the injustice surrounding his death at the hands of the Troy police department, and demand changes in the policies and practices that led to his death.
According to a suppressed internal Troy Police Department (TPD) investigation, Sergeant Randall French of Troy PD chased Edson Thevenin after a traffic stop, rammed his car off the road, jumped out of the police car, and within seconds shot Mr. Thevenin at point blank range through the windshield. Though Sgt. French claimed that the shooting was justified due to being trapped by Thevenin’s car, eyewitnesses and forensic evidence prove that French jumped directly in front of the car, fatally shot Edson Thevenin, and then was trapped afterward when the car, out of control, rolled forward.
Both the Attorney General’s and Troy PD’s Internal Affairs investigations concluded that Sergeant French and other officers lied by falsely claiming that French’s life was in danger from Thevenin’s car – contradicting witnesses and forensic evidence. The City of Troy, under Mayor Madden’s leadership, did not like the conclusions of both of these extensive investigations so it paid for a third investigation which the mayor stated contradicted the prior two findings. When it was finally released in 2022, the report contained no new evidence and did not contradict the evidence of the previous reports. It just asserted that police officers are not legally accountable for murder like other people. Troy for Black Lives demands that police officers be held accountable for violent and murderous acts that would be illegal if we, community members, committed them!
Instead of accountability and change, Troy PD, the mayor’s office, and former Rensselaer County District Attorney Abelove sought to reconstruct the events of April 17, 2016 with disregard to truth and justice. The Troy PD remains unaccountable to the community they serve and continues to fail in their job of maintaining public safety. On the sixth anniversary of Edson Thevenin’s death, Troy for Black Lives calls for an end to qualified immunity for police officers, no military weapons/tanks for police, mandated de-escalation training, alternative non-law-enforcement crisis responses, a civilian police review board comprised of more than 60% of people most impacted by violence that has subpoena power, and investments in Black specific community resources instead of police and jails. We demand that Black Life actually matter in the policies, practices, and resource allocations of our city and county.