ONLY ON 13: Anti-violence advocate says he’s been wrongfully charged in Cohoes murder

ONLY ON 13: Dontie Mitchell talks about what happened in 2023 Cohoes homicide

Self-proclaimed, anti-violence activist, Dontie Mitchell is speaking exclusively with NewsChannel 13’s Tessa Bentulan from behind bars.

“I don’t believe I should be charged at all. I’m innocent.”

Dontie Mitchell spoke exclusively with NewsChannel 13’s Tessa Bentulan from jail on Wednesday.

Mitchell was recently arraigned on a new charge of attempted murder in connection with the homicide at Main and Schuyler streets in Cohoes, last August. A second-degree murder charge was initially dropped last December, because the judge said there was insufficient evidence.

Mitchell does not deny being in Cohoes the night Shieer Leggett was shot and killed in the shooting, he said, but he said he did not start anything.

“I did not provoke it, I did not instigate it, I didn’t start it,” he said.

Mitchell said he was in Cohoes that night for his non-profit, Money Gang Youth Empowerment Program. Part of his responsibilities is to help keep kids away from gangs, drugs and violence.

Mitchell said he was told two teenagers that were part of his program were hanging with gang members.

He went to Cohoes to go get them. Tessa Bentulan asked Mitchell what happened from the time he picked them up and the start of the shooting. Mitchell said that he can’t specifically talk about that, at the advice of counsel.

“At the point of arriving there to investigate that, this unfortunate incident evolved not through any actions of my own….I was just there to get those two young men and, if possible, get them out of that situation. That’s what I need people to understand. This is the work I’ve been doing. This is the work I will continue to do, if I get the opportunity. That was my only motivation,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell did know the victim, Leggett. He said Leggett is the older brother of one of the boys that was a part of his empowerment program.

“Me and Shieer Leggett, at that time, there was no conflict between he and I. No discussions between he and I,” he said about the night Leggett was shot and killed.

Tessa Bentulan asked Mitchell if he saw Shieer get shot. He said no. Tessa then asked Mitchell if he saw anyone hold a gun. He said he could not speak to the specifics of that.

Two other people were also arrested in the case. Nalik Sealy was reindicted on murder and was being arraigned on Wednesday. Tyon Baker pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon last year.

Mitchell said he did not know of Baker and Sealy until they were charged in this murder; Mitchell had no personal relationships with the two.