JAMESVILLE, NY (AP) — Four police officers who shot and killed a 17-year-old boy on Apulia Road in Jamesville last year will not face criminal charges, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday.
A lengthy investigation into the death of Judson Albahm, of Jamesville, by James’ office has concluded a prosecutor “would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the actions of the officers … were justified,” the attorney general said in a statement.
Albahm’s mother had called 911 asking for help locating her son, who left her home after a mental health crisis team arrived for a previously scheduled evaluation, the report said.
Four officers from three agencies fired at Albahm on March 4, 2021, after authorities say he pointed what appeared to be a handgun at them. The weapon turned out to be an air gun that looked like a real firearm, officials said. Some officers had been informed Albahm had mental health problems and owned air guns, but others did not know, the attorney general’s office said.
Albahm’s family questioned the use of deadly force. In a lawsuit filed against police, Judson’s mother claimed she called 911 asking for police assistance in getting her son to treatment, and telling the dispatcher and responding officers Judson owned a BB gun and had threatened “suicide by cop.”
A message seeking comment was left Friday with the family’s attorney.
Responding to the 911 call, officers found Albahm in the woods near his home and followed him for about 30 minutes. Several officers saw what appeared to be a pistol in Albahm’s hand and ordered him numerous times to drop it, the report said.
Albahm pointed the air gun at two officers who had not been informed he owned air guns, and those two officers and two other officers opened fire, the report said. None of the four officers who shot at the teen was wearing a body camera.
Albahm was shot several times by DeWitt police investigators Lucas Byron and Matthew Menard, state trooper Corey Fike and Sgt. Amy Bollinger of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, the report said.
The report made several recommendations including that all law enforcement officers be equipped with body cameras, clear protocols are established for when multiple agencies respond to an incident and that the state enact stronger laws to regulate imitation weapons.
“Losing a child is the greatest pain that a parent can endure, and I offer my deepest condolences to the Albahm family,” James said in a statement. “This was a tragic incident that claimed the life of a young man struggling with mental health issues, and we must all do better to support those in need. While this case did not warrant criminal charges against the officers based on the law, OSI provided recommendations to help prevent such an incident from occurring in the future. In addition to providing all officers with body-worn cameras and creating inter-agency protocols, it’s critical that we create stronger laws to regulate and differentiate imitation weapons. No one should be able to buy, sell, or own an imitation weapon that so closely resembles a real firearm, and it is imperative that we take action to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.