SARATOGA SPRINGS – The case against a woman who was arrested in front of her two young children as they checked on the wellbeing of the children’s father – a prominent Black Lives Matter activist – is headed toward a dismissal.
In City Court Thursday, three charges against Gabrielle C. Elliott, 28, were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning that if Elliott is not arrested during the next six months, the charges would be dismissed and the record sealed.
Her lawyer, Jasper Mills of Albany, commended prosecutors for seeing the case as what he said was “a pile of garbage.”
Elliott was charged Sept. 7 with attempted assault, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police alleged that she threw a water bottle at a Saratoga County Sheriff’s deputy. Elliott denies the allegation.
Elliott was with her 6-year-old son and then 1-year-old daughter who was in a stroller, waiting outside the police station for information about the case of the children’s father, BLM activist Lexis Figuereo.
Figuereo, 34, was one of more than a dozen protesters arrested on a warrant following a July 14 protest during which they allegedly blocked traffic.
Figuereo also denies that charge, asserting there’s no video footage to suggest he was one of the protesters who blocked traffic.
The charge against him was levied nearly two months after the event, raising concerns the police action was retaliatory.
Elliott said officers on Sept. 7 crowded her, ripped her children from her hands and handcuffed her.
After her arrest, she said she went to a hospital for treatment of contusions to her ribs, and bruising all over her body.
Judge Jeffrey D. Wait accepted the plea conditions that were agreed upon by Mills and Assistant District Attorney Lyn Murphy.
In court, Mills lauded the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office for “doing the right thing” and seeing the case for what it was.
“They arrested her and charged her for not wanting to leave her child on the side of a road,” Mills said.
A former Albany County prosecutor and former counsel to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Mills said he told the DA’s office that Saratoga Springs Police endangered the children’s wellbeing.
“Ms. Elliot is not one to be arrested,” Mills said, adding, “But if it happens again, I’m going to be there again – and I’m going to be there the time after that.”
Elliott and Figuereo promised to pursue a civil case against the police.
Reached for comment, police Lt. Robert Jillson, a department spokesman, said he couldn’t comment on a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed.
But Jillson noted that adjournments in contemplation of dismissal are “fairly common” in city court.
Speaking to reporters, Elliott described having her children forcibly taken by authorities.
“You’re just worried about their safety,” she said. “And then they just had seen their father taken from them as well, so I think that you just want to be there. And that’s why I didn’t want to leave them.”
Elliott said her son has ADHD and remains fearful of police because of the encounter.
She said she was thankful Figuereo’s mother was also present and able to take custody of the children.
The police, she said, “actually asked someone else’s mother” if it was OK for their grandmother to take custody of the children.
“They endangered the welfare of my child – I did not,” Elliott said.
Police and BLM activists have long been in the spotlight: so much so that the city received correspondence from the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office concerning allegations of possible violations of state and federal law as it relates to recent protests that occurred in the city.
The AG’s office commenced the investigation to assess whether protesters were targeted with excessive force and retaliatory arrests.
Police Chief Shane Crooks has said the city will cooperate with the investigation, and work with its outside attorney to address the attorney general’s concerns.
Figuereo, who was interviewed by AG investigators, said that office was interested in Elliott’s case.
Whenever Figuereo sees video footage of Elliott’s arrest, and what his children were subjected to, he said “it brings tears to my eyes” and sends him into a rage.
“My kids won’t ever forget that ever again,” he said. “They already know that I’m out here protesting for the best for them, to make sure that they’re better and to make sure they’re safe and they don’t have to deal with what we do.”
He went on to say that the children’s takeaway from the encounter was “it’s not safe to go to the police station.”
Other than one protest last year, Figuereo said he and Elliott do not bring their children to protests because of the police and “the heat that they bring.”
He said he didn’t appreciate authorities trying to advance a perception that Elliott was an unfit mother, given the harm they could have inflicted on his children.
His daughter in the stroller, he said, “could have went down the hill into the streets – so that’s what we need to worry about.”
“So once again, there will be a lawsuit. There’s no question about a lawsuit. There is going to be a lawsuit filed. The city is going to have notice in the next week or two from me and her as well. And that’s plain and simple. Black lives matter and no justice, no peace.”
Figuereo is to return to court next week on a charge of disorderly conduct stemming from the July 14 protest, and charges of obstruction of governmental administration for alleged actions during two City Council meetings.
He said there isn’t a plea deal in the works. He said his lawyer has yet to receive discovery.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.