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Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment; Man pointed what looked like gun out door

Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment; Man pointed what looked like gun out door

Police: Schenectady officers fatally shoot man at apartment; Man pointed what looked like gun out door
The scene Tuesday morning
Photographer: Gazette

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 discharged their weapons after Michael Wallace, 34, cracked an apartment door and pointed a gun at them as the officers 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, 5.5 years.

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 relayed to 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 than 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, soon exited and was briefly detained, Clifford said. 

After multiple attempts to get the man to exit, he did not. The department's Special Operations Response Team responded and ultimately 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 itself and processing the scene.

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

Regarding the shooting itself, Clifford said it 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.

The officer-involved shooting comes nearly five months after the last officer-involved shooting in the city. In that case, an officer fired a single shot at a stolen car Nov. 1 as the teenage driver drove toward him. No one was hurt in that incident and a later review determined that officer's actions to be justified.

Photos: Images from Tuesday morning's scene

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