Community anger exploded at a news conference called Friday by the city’s police chief after the fatal shooting Thursday of a 19-year-old Troy man by a city police officer.
Nahcream Moore of Fifth Avenue, Troy, was shot three times in the upper torso after he allegedly pointed a loaded .22-caliber handgun at officers trying to arrest him on a parole warrant, according to Police Chief Steven Krokoff.
It was the first deadly shooting by city police this year, and the first such crisis to confront Krokoff since his appointment as chief in June 2010. He handled it by holding the news conference, but the event quickly became a shouting match involving audience members, Krokoff and City Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, who tried to moderate the event.
“They are killing our kids. You got to understand the anger,” yelled Sandra McKinley, who runs a ministry in Albany’s South End neighborhood. “You got to have accountability.”
Other audience members yelled: “He was shot down like a dog,” “He was a kid,” and “You could have been trained to get the gun from him.”
Krokoff tried to temper the audience’s anger by saying, “I know everyone is upset, and I plead to you that given time, you will have all the answers to your questions. We understand and feel it. We are part of the community. We are not against it.”
Standing quietly by Krokoff’s side during the news conference were members of Moore’s family. None spoke, nor did they remain to answer questions from the media. Family members met privately with Krokoff and his command staff prior to the news conference, delaying its start by 30 minutes.
Brandon Graham, a cousin of Moore’s, said afterwards, “All we want is justice.” Graham did not stand with the family during the news conference.
McLaughlin, who participated in the meeting between police and Moore’s family, said the family is taking Krokoff at his word that he will provide them with a full accounting of the shooting. “It is a tragic situation. This was a young life that could have gone on, and these people are hurting,” she said.
At the news conference, Krokoff said the two officers involved in the incident, Jason Kelley and Greg Mulligan, are on leave pending a review by the department’s Professional Standards Unit and an Albany County grand jury. He would not identify which officer fired the shots.
Krokoff said based on an initial review of the incident, one of the officers tried to remove Moore from the back seat of a vehicle stopped in front of 441 S. Pearl St. at 10:20 p.m. Thursday. During the encounter, Moore “attempted to lift a handgun in his possession. The other officer witnessed the incident and used deadly force,” Krokoff said.
Krokoff said the police cruiser carrying the two officers involved in the incident is equipped with a video camera, but he had not yet reviewed the footage.
Wellisa Marshall, the driver of the vehicle carrying Moore, said Moore got into a “tussle” with one officer, whom she identified as Kelley, before Moore was shot. She said she never saw Moore display a handgun and that police shot him while he was on the ground. Police dispute Marshall’s account.
Krokoff’s news conference was a break from past practices by Albany police officials, who provided information only in closed sessions with media. Jacqui Williams, a member of the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee, said Krokoff is trying to follow the committee’s recommendations to be more responsive to community needs.
“The police response is a change. There is now two-way communication,” she said, adding that she will reserve judgment on the shooting until she hears details.
Willie White, executive director of AVillage, a grass-roots, anti-poverty group in Albany, said he consoled Moore’s mother, whom he did not identify, the night of the shooting. He said the family remains in shock and that the shooting has affected the entire community deeply. “This is an angry community,” he said.
Following the news conference, more than two dozen people attended a “grief session” sponsored by Union Missionary Baptist Church on Morton Street, several blocks from where Moore was shot. The media were barred from attending.
Outside the event, Moore’s godmother, Diana Cooley of Schenectady, said she does not know the details but said “someone should never have to die like that. I want to know the truth.”
She said Moore also had a sister.
Anne Pope, chairwoman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Northeastern Region of the New York, attended the grief session to show support for the family. “We are entitled to answers. A young man was shot and killed by police. We have to know why. We can’t continue to lose young people,” she said.
Noelene Smith, a community activist, said she credits Krokoff for his quick response to the shooting, which she said is a marked contrast from his predecessor, James Tuffey. She added, however, that Krokoff created friction by going into the news conference without all the answers and without interviewing all the witnesses, such as Marshall. Marshall said police never spoke with her about what happened; she has not been charged.
Smith added that Krokoff’s statements about the two officers, in which he called them veterans with exemplary records, seemed to suggest he “has made his decision based on what the officers said.”