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Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment

Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment

Suspect allegedly pointed a gun at them
Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment
The scene Tuesday morning
Photographer: Peter Barber/Staff Photographer

SCHENECTADY — A man was shot and killed by city police officers Tuesday morning after he pointed a handgun at them at Joseph Allen Apartments on Tuesday, police said.

Two officers fired their weapons after Michael Wallace, 34, cracked an apartment door and pointed a gun - possibly a pellet or BB gun -- at them as they investigated a complaint of an argument that turned into report of a gun threat, Police Chief Eric Clifford said Tuesday afternoon.

Wallace was taken to Ellis Hospital where he was pronounced dead, Clifford said. 

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, per department policy. Police did not immediately identify them, but Clifford described one as an eight-year veteran and the other as having five and a half years on the department.

Clifford declined to disclose how many shots were fired, and how many struck Wallace, citing the ongoing investigation, which has been taken over by state police. 

He believes the weapon to be a pellet or BB gun, though he said it remained in the apartment for processing and they haven't been able to inspect it.

Regardless, he said, it doesn’t change the circumstances.

"A gun is a gun, and officers have seconds to make a decision," Clifford said.

Police initially responded to the Albany Street apartment building for a report of a man and a woman fighting in a second-floor apartment at 8:11 a.m., police said.

The caller told city police the music had been turned up to mask the dispute.

The building’s security and superintendent then told dispatchers and arriving officers that the man in the argument had pointed a gun at them when they tried address the situation. 

"Officers went to the second floor in an attempt to make contact with the occupants in the apartment," Clifford told reporters. "While attempting to make contact, the door of the apartment opened and a male occupant extended a gun beyond the door way into the hallway where officers were standing.

"Two officers then discharged their service weapons. At that point the door to the apartment closed and the officers made repeated attempts to have the occupants exit."

One woman, apparently uninjured, exited and was briefly detained, Clifford said. 

After making multiple attempts to get the man to come out, the department's Special Operations Response Team entered the apartment and found the man.

Clifford said he doesn’t foresee any charges for the woman, who was briefly detained and released.

Officers and detectives conducted a preliminary investigation and Clifford has been in contact with the state Attorney General's Office, he said. He's also asked the state police to take over the investigation and processing of the scene.

"The Schenectady Police Department will cooperate fully with both agencies," Clifford said.

Clifford said the shooing appeared justified, though he emphasized others will make the final call.

"It's not going to be my decision to make. I can tell you that I've seen body-worn camera [footage] and I'm comfortable with the actions that the officers took," Clifford said.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy later echoed Clifford's comments.

"Based on the materials I've reviewed, I'm comfortable the officers acted appropriately," McCarthy said.

Clifford declined to discuss additional details, citing state police’s control of the investigation, but said he wouldn’t have a problem releasing body-cam footage once authorities conclude their investigation.

City police were assisted on scene by state police and county sheriffs deputies.

Photos: Images from Tuesday morning's scene


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