Antonia Brown knew Donald “Dontay” Ivy Jr. all his life and called him “a good kid, not a confrontational child.”
“He did not deserve to be treated the way he was,” she said of the 39-year-old Albany man who died early Thursday morning near his Arbor Hill home after being Tasered during an encounter with Albany police.
Brown, who said Ivy suffered with mental illness, joined a mass protest Friday evening outside the Albany Police Department’s South Station, calling for change in the wake of the fatal encounter.
An orderly crowd that numbered more than 200 at its maximum, and included nearly equal numbers of black and white demonstrators, marched about a mile from South Station to Albany City Hall, chanting “Black lives matter!” They also called for the disarmament of police.
Ivy’s family did not attend the rally.
“Police need better training in dealing with mental illness,” Brown said before the march. “His situation should have been dealt with more sensitively.”
Police said they encountered Ivy about 12:30 a.m. Thursday near Lark and Second streets. They have not said why they approached him, but they said he became highly aggressive “and a physical confrontation took place between the individual and the officers.”
Police said a Taser was fired at Ivy and appeared to have little effect, but he was apprehended after a brief foot chase. Police said he then suffered a “medical emergency” and lost consciousness.
Ivy was pronounced dead at Albany Medical Center despite efforts at the scene to revive him.
The three officers involved are on paid administrative leave while police investigate. Albany police spokesman Officer Steven Smith said they were no further updates Friday.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.
A number of police officers unobtrusively monitored the march, stopping traffic and accompanying marchers on bicycles.
Longtime community activist Tom Ellis held a small sign that called for banning Tasers. Ivy’s death is the third in the Capital Region over the last four years related to the use of Tasers, which can cause heart attacks. Nationally, critics say more than 600 people have died after being Tasered since 2001.
“They were sold to police on the basis of being non-lethal, and they are turning out to be quite lethal,” Ellis said. “I also think police need a lot more training in dealing with people who have mental illness. … They should have left him alone.”
Anthony Gooding, who said he works just a short distance from where the incident occurred, said he attended the rally because he believes the community and city need to unite following such incidents.
“Too many black lives are being lost, not just here in Albany, but across America,” Gooding said.
He said he believes the police were aggressive toward Ivy because they weren’t aware his was mentally ill, leading him to “act out.”
City Councilman Mark Robinson said police label neighborhoods like Arbor Hill “high crime areas” and use that as a reason to “stop, detain and harass our youth.”