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Teen arrested in trooper assault

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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New York State Police Troop "G", Major Steve James, conducted a news conference on Tuesday afternoon about the stabbing of State Trooper Rodney Smith on Sunday.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
New York State Police Troop "G", Major Steve James, conducted a news conference on Tuesday afternoon about the stabbing of State Trooper Rodney Smith on Sunday.

— As state police were detailing to reporters the unfolding search Tuesday for a teenager suspected of stabbing a state trooper two days earlier, troopers in Albany were minutes away from arresting the man.

At 12:25 p.m., state police spotted 18-year-old Eric L. Green walking at the intersection of Western and Washington avenues. When troopers stopped him, he initially identified himself as someone else, police said in the second of two news conferences held Tuesday at Troop G headquarters in Latham.

Shortly after, Green was arrested without incident. He was arraigned in Colonie Town Court Tuesday night on charges of first-degree aggravated assault of a police officer, first-degree robbery and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Additional charges may still be filed in consultation with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

State police are investigating Green’s actions and whereabouts since the stabbing Sunday, and ask anyone with information to call 474-5330.

In the two news conferences Tuesday, media learned more about how Trooper Rodney Smith survived a stab wound in the neck during his usual foot patrol at the state Capitol Sunday.

Police believe that Green approached Smith that afternoon as he walked along the Empire State Plaza concourse, and said that he was new in town and looking for a place to stay. Smith had just asked him for identification when Green allegedly pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed him. During a struggle, Smith incurred more wounds to the neck and face and along his arms and hands. State police allege that Green tried to get hold of the trooper’s handgun.

“The trooper did an excellent job in retaining his firearm in an effort to prevent Green from taking it,” said Bureau of Criminal Investigations Captain Tim Munro at an evening news conference Tuesday.

The assailant did, however, get hold of Smith’s police radio and then fled. It was then that Smith called for help, launching a tremendous manhunt by numerous police agencies that would last two days.

Doctors performed surgery on Smith at Albany Medical Center that afternoon. The knife had missed a major artery, and he was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

“In no way does his release ... [conclude] that his injuries were minimal in nature,” said state police Major Steven James, Troop G commander.

In the first news conference Tuesday, state police said that Green had previous run-ins with law enforcement. He was apparently known by Capitol Police, and had even run into several troopers on Sunday, prior to the violent encounter with Smith. James said that Green was involved in a 2008 incident that was also of a violent nature, but would not disclose details.

The teenager graduated from Albany High School in 2010. He is homeless, with friends in the Albany and Brooklyn areas. Police believe he was attempting to flee downstate, but the sheer number of law enforcement out on the streets and at transportation hubs thwarted any effort to do so.

“If he had the opportunity, he would have gotten out of town,” said James. “We were fortunate enough to stave that off. The police presence was a significant factor.”

In all, the manhunt involved state police, Albany police, the New York Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and several more agencies downstate. Police wouldn’t say much about how they were able to locate Green, or what his motive may have been.

“Through lengthy efforts we were able to identify the locations that he frequents, and also just through continued flooding of the area with officers and his description we were able to locate him,” he added.

A $10,000 reward posted by the NYPD won’t be given out, said Munro, since the arrest happened without a witness divulging Green’s whereabouts.

 
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