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Community looks to have charges against Ellazar Williams dropped

December 20, 2018 08:47 AM

ALBANY - People in Albany want the charges against 19-year-old Ellazar Williams dropped. That was the main topic of discussion at a public forum at the Howe Branch of the Albany Public Library on Wednesday night.

The movement comes after a grand jury decided not to indict Albany Police Detective James Olsen who shot and paralyzed Williams on August 20.

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Williams is facing a felony menacing charge and a misdemeanor weapon charge. People at the meeting said they're organizing a petition to have those charges dropped.

"For a 19-year-old to be paralyzed from the chest down, that's a life sentence,” Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration steering committee member Jacqui C. Williams said. "The petition that we agreed on tonight is going to be toward or directed toward the district attorney to drop those charges."

Many who spoke said they believed that Albany County District Attorney David Soares should have asked for a special prosecutor to handle the case. Some believe it's a clear conflict of interest for him to prosecute both Olsen and Williams.

“He was not going to go against the grain and put his livelihood on the line for this thug that was up on Central Avenue or wherever it was starting trouble,” Anthony Muhammad the Albany representative for Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan said. “That's my personal opinion.”

"I am so sorry that Ellazar Williams was part of his [Soares’] non-prosecuting, was part of his letting the police go, was part of his 'Oh we're going to investigate it ourselves.’” Williams said. “That's not the kind of service that anyone was looking for when he was elected."

Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice Dr. Alice Green said Soares and Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins were both invited to the forum, but neither believed it would be a good idea to attend.

"In one sense law enforcement is arguing that they're very transparent and we don't see evidence of that in this particular case so the community is still concerned about that,” Green said.

Williams' attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Olsen and the two other officers who were in the responding vehicle. They haven't said how much they're seeking. A GoFundMe page has also been created to help Williams.

Last week Soares said he would not be commenting on this case until a grand jury heard the evidence against Williams. He has about two more months to try to get an indictment.

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Emily Burkhard

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