Troy Hodge's death still under state review

US&J FILE PHOTOA family member remembers Troy Hodge during a June 19, 2019, demonstration at Lockport city hall. The New York State Attorney General’s investigation into Hodge’s death, launched June 20, is still in progress, an AG’s spokesman said Tuesday.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office says there is no update on its investigation into the death of city resident Troy Hodge while in police custody.

“We don’t have any updates. These investigations often take some time ... We really conduct through investigations and those take time,” a spokesperson for the AG’s office said Tuesday. 

The New York Attorney General’s office is investigating Hodge’s death, per a 2015 mandate from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the office prosecute all police-involved deaths of civilians who were or might have been unarmed.

And the office will not disclose any new information on the case, including the cause of Hodge’s death, until its Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit completes its report.

Prosecutors of course could complete and release their report at any time. But in past investigations, SIPU has taken no less than seven months to release its findings. Some investigations took much longer, such as the 21-month wait for the report on the death of Edson Thevenin, who was shot to death April 17, 2016, after he fled from Troy police in a car.

Then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that investigation was undermined by “significant problems with the Troy Police Department’s evidence collection.” The Thevenin investigation was by far the slowest to reach a conclusion. Of the 14 investigation reports by the attorney general’s SIPU, 12 were completed in less than 14 months, and eight were completed in less than a year.

SIPU has not completed any investigation in less than seven months and six days — the time it took the office to release its report on Raynette Turner, who died of natural causes while in the custody of Mount Vernon Police Department.

In Lockport, police were called to 217 Park Ave. about 11:40 p.m. June 16 after Hodge’s mother, Fatima Hodge, reported that her son was behaving erratically and requested help. Dispatchers also sent an ambulance from Twin City Ambulance, but it arrived 15 to 20 minutes later, then-Police Chief Steven Preisch said in June. 

Hodge told officers he was going to go into the house to get a gun, prompting an altercation that drew in another three city officers and four Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies, according to police.

Hodge sustained facial injuries during the incident and officers used a Taser on him once.

Hodge’s friends and family say he was handcuffed and on the ground when the Taser was used, and that officers body-slammed him into the ground. Asked about that allegation, Preisch said, “I don’t believe that’s accurate from what I know.”

Shortly after being secured in handcuffs, the man collapsed in medical distress, Preisch said.

Twin City Ambulance responded and took the man to ENH, where he was declared dead. Preisch said officers performed chest compressions while awaiting the ambulance and continued to apply chest compressions in the ambulance as it traveled to ENH.

On June 20, the AG’s office announced it would take over the investigation.

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