Schenectady Police Sgt. Darryl Mallard was justified in using deadly physical force against Julio Colon during a hostage situation that unfolded at a first-floor apartment off Dewitt Avenue in May, a grand jury decided today.
County District Attorney Robert Carney said his office also conducted a review of the case — including interviews with witnesses outside the testimony before jurors —and reached the same conclusion. He said Colon, 40, endangered the life of his roommate and put responding officers in a position in which they needed to act in order to protect the 23-year-old man, who was being held at knifepoint.
"It is regrettable that Mr. Colon lost his life, but worse outcomes were possible here involving death or serious injury to the roommate or the police," Carney said in a statement released this afternoon. "Whether because of drug-induced paranoia, a wish to die at the hands of police, or some other reason, Mr. Colon bears the ultimate responsibility for his own death."
Colon, who had significant quantities of methamphetamine in his body, died from bleeding resulting from a gunshot wound through his left lung. The roommate —who was not named by Carney or Police —was treated for bruises and knife wounds, including some that required stitches to close.
A pattern of violence apparently already existed between Colon and his victim, who was his domestic partner. Schenectady police broke up a violent fight between the two men at the Days Inn during the early morning hours of March 3, about two months before the hostage situation.
Responding officers found the unidentified victim with swelling around his face and a cut above his eye -- injuries sustained during a domestic dispute. Investigators later determined Colon , who was found to have a small bag of methamphetamine, refused to let his partner leave a room at the hotel by repeatedly shoving him back from the door. He also struck and bit the man during the fracas, according to court documents.
Colon was taken into custody and his victim requested a full stay-away order of protection. Colon ultimately pleaded guilty to drug possession, was handed a 30-day sentence and released from the Schenectady County jail on March 22, after being given 10 days off his sentence for good behavior.
On May 3, Mallard and two other officers were called to a domestic dispute at the apartment near the Balltown Road intersection only to find Colon holding a knife to the neck of another man already bleeding from wounds to his bare chest. Carney said Colon refused to drop the weapon despite police command and began carving into his hostage's chest when Mallard fired two glancing shots from his pistol.
Wounded, Colon released his hostage and then stood up, brandishing the knife at Mallard and closing the distance between the two men. Mallard then fired a single shot that ultimately killed Colon.
Mallard is decorated veteran of more than 10 years on the force. He was put on administrative leave for a short time after the shooting, but has since returned to duty.