Off-duty Trooper testifies he saw him shoot

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Tasheem Maeweather, shown here at his arraignment on Monday, was back in Guilderland Town Court on Friday where, after a hearing, Judge Denise Randall decided his case will go to a grand jury.

GUILDERLAND — Tasheem Maeweather was held over for grand-jury action after a hearing Friday afternoon in Guilderland Town Court.

The key witness was an off-duty State Trooper who said he saw the entire altercation at Crossgates Mall unfold and saw Maeweather firing a gun twice.

The 20-year-old Albany man was charged two days after the Saturday shooting had closed the sprawling mall as shoppers and workers fled or were locked down until a police sweep was completed. No gun has been found. No one was hurt in the incident, and police say they haven't found the person who was shot at.

Maeweather pleaded “not guilty” in town court on Monday to two felony charges: reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. His lawyer, Lee Kindlon of Albany's Kindlon Law Firm, continues to maintain Maeweather's innocence. Maeweather’s mother, seated in the gallery on Friday, sobbed as her son was brought into the courtroom with his wrists and ankles manacled.

After the hearing, Kindlon questioned Trooper Ian De Giovine’s eyewitness account, saying that it would be natural for him to be primarily concerned with the safety of his family, rather with closely observing the altercation.

Kindlon knew of at least a half dozen other eyewitnesses, he said, and there were many discrepancies among the details that they reported, he said, including height, weight, clothing, and age.

“The one thing they were all able to do was describe was skin color, which is a much longer conversation for another day,” he said. Maeweather is black.


With Judge Denise Randall presiding, De Giovine, of Troop G in Latham, was called to the stand by Assistant District Attorney Brittany Grome. He said that he happened to be standing outside the Guilderland mall’s Apple store on Saturday afternoon at about 2:23 p.m. when he noticed a young male approaching.

The male, whom he identified as Maeweather, was dressed in an all-gray sweatsuit and was wearing white Jordan sneakers with black trim. Maeweather was at the front of a group of three or four other young males who were walking directly toward De Giovine, he said.

The focus of Maeweather’s attention was another male, wearing a “red top,” De Giovine said, and walking at the front of another group of young males that was approaching from behind the off-duty Trooper.

The male in the red top “was looking at the gentleman in all-gray,” De Giovine said.

He added, “It looked like there might be an altercation.”

The group coming toward De Giovine, headed by Maeweather, was referred to in the court proceeding as “Group 1,” and the group coming from behind, headed by a male in a red top, was called “Group 2.”

When Maeweather approached the male in red, the Trooper said, “There were words exchanged. They were face-to-face, right up close to each other.”

De Giovine emphasized, during questioning by Kindlon, that the altercation was not between the two groups, but between the two males.

The two males were about 10 or 15 feet away from him, De Giovine estimated, throughout their interaction; Maeweather, he said, was facing directly toward him. Besides the two groups of young males, he said, probably 15 or 20 people were milling around in the immediate area. There were also many customers inside the Apple store, he said.

Things soon escalated, he said. The male in the red top “reached back and threw a punch” at Maeweather. De Giovine could not be sure if the punch landed or not. Maeweather quickly took about two steps backward, maybe about eight feet back, he said.

Next, Maeweather reached down into a pocket or his waistband, the Trooper was not sure, and pulled out a gun and held it in front of him sideways, “like this,” De Giovine said, arm out straight and palm facing down.

“I could see the end sticking out,” De Giovine said of the gun. It was about two seconds after the punch that the gun came out, he said.

Then, De Giovine said, Maeweather fired two shots, “Boom boom.”

He also saw a grayish powder come out from the end of the gun, he said.

De Giovine pushed his girlfriend and his child into the Apple store and made sure that they were headed toward the store’s back exit before turning his attention back to the activity in front of the store.

It was chaos, he said. “There was people screaming. There was people crying. There was people running everywhere,” trying to find cover or get to safety, he said.

De Giovine saw an overturned stroller, he said, with a man beside it, and immediately yelled at the man to come over; he “wanted to see if there was any problem with the stroller, although I didn’t think there was.”

Once he was satisfied that there was nothing to worry about with the stroller, De Giovine turned his attention back to Maeweather, who now was about 20 yards ahead, running down the right-hand side of the center walkway, he said.

He himself immediately began running down the left-hand side of the walkway, losing sight of the male in gray at about the Verizon store, he said.

Defense attorney Lee Kindlon asked if the Trooper saw Maeweather discarding any weapons.

“I did not,” he said.

And did he observe the male in gray still holding a gun?

“No,” came the answer.

Was he doing anything besides running?

“Not that I witnessed.”

Kindlon suggested that perhaps De Giovine hadn’t really been watching carefully during the altercation, because he was at the mall with his family, not expecting any trouble. “You were there with your family. Was it a typical Saturday at the mall” until the point of the altercation? Kindlon asked.

De Giovine said, “I’m an observer wherever I go. I’m a police officer.”

How did the off-duty Trooper happen to notice so many details about the sneakers that the male in gray was wearing, Kindlon asked De Giovine at one point.

“I like Jordans,” the Trooper replied. He added that several others in the group behind the male in gray were also wearing that brand of sneaker.

Grome called one other witness, Trooper Timothy Ayers, who was one of many law-enforcement officers called to the scene. Ayers testified that he and the rest of the state police force’s Forensic I.D. Unit found a “defect” in the drywall nearby, removed a section of drywall, and located a bullet within.

Kindlon asked if Ayers had been at the mall the day before, and if he could say whether the bullet had been there then. He could not, he said.

Ayers said that the unit had used direction rods to try to determine the trajectory of the bullet, and had determined that it came from the center walkway, but not precisely where.

Kindlon asked Ayers if his investigation had revealed who had shot the bullet, and Ayers said it had not.

The defense did not present any witnesses.

Kindlon said after the hearing that he was happy to have De Giovine’s testimony “locked in” under oath. He looked forward to seeing the surveillance video of the incident, once it was released by police,  he said, and uncovering any discrepancies between what it showed and what De Giovine reported seeing.

Maeweather will be held in Albany County’s jail without bail, pending grand jury action, according to Guilderland Court Clerk Jennifer Stephens.

Updated on Nov. 21, 2016: Information from Jennifer Stephens was added.

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