Press-Republican

March 7, 2013

Man killed by trooper was convicted felon

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — NORTH HUDSON — An AuSable Forks man was killed by State Police Tuesday night after a pursuit that ended on Route 9 in North Hudson.

Richard J. Aubin, 28, was shot multiple times by State Trooper Leston W. Sheeley after Aubin grabbed Trooper Marcia L. Pooler’s holstered 45-caliber Glock G.A.P. during a struggle near Liberty Road.

Sheeley, a trooper for almost 10 years, is assigned to the Blue Ridge Interstate Highway Patrol substation in the High Peaks Rest Area of the Northway.

Pooler has been a trooper for six years, assigned to the Schroon Lake substation.

State Police Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation Capt. Robert LaFountain said Sheeley and Pooler remain on active duty but had regularly scheduled days off Wednesday.

“It seems to be a justified use of deadly force by one of our troopers,” he said at the press conference held Wednesday at the Essex County Public Safety Building in Lewis.

VIOLENT STRUGGLE

LaFountain said that, at just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sheeley was on patrol near the Pottersville exit of the Adirondack Northway and attempted to pull over Aubin’s black 2005 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck for speeding and reckless driving.

Aubin was driving about 95 mph in a 65-mph zone, LaFountain said; he left the Northway at the Pottersville exit, driving north on Route 9 at high speed with police in pursuit.

The chase continued through Schroon Lake, where Pooler joined the chase from the Schroon substation.

State Police set up spike strips across Route 9 near the intersection with Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson; Aubin drove over them, flattening the tires on his truck, LaFountain said.

After driving a short distance on the ruined tires and colliding with a troop car, Aubin abandoned the truck and fled into nearby woods west of the roadway at about 5:30 p.m., LaFountain said.

Sheeley and Pooler followed him into the wooded area, which is on private property.

“The two troopers encountered the suspect, who resisted violently,” LaFountain said.

“They used pepper spray, to no effect. He (Aubin) grabbed one of the trooper’s firearms. The second trooper discharged several rounds into the suspect.”

TROOPERS INJURED

Following the shooting, Essex County Coroner Walter “Smitty” Marvin III was called to the site and pronounced Aubin dead. The body was removed to Albany Medical Center, where an autopsy by Dr. Michael Sikirica was scheduled to be performed later today.

Both troopers were taken to Glens Falls Hospital, treated for minor injuries then released.

The pursuit took about 25 minutes from start to finish, LaFountain said.

He said the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Moriah Town Police and State Department of Environmental Conservation Police joined the chase to assist State Police. North Hudson Fire Police closed off the area to traffic.

The Troop B Violent Crimes Investigation Team, Forensic Investigation Team and Collision Reconstruction Team all went to the site of the shooting to help.

CONVICTED FELON

Aubin is a convicted violent felon, LaFountain said, and had a history of resisting arrest. He was last arrested in 2012 and had convictions for assault, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.

The assault happened in November 2005, when Aubin, then 21, attacked David Gardner of Lyon Mountain on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh. He was also charged with robbery, for taking money from Gardner, but on Wednesday, LaFountain didn’t know whether Aubin was convicted for that.

In April 2011, he was charged with felony DWI and misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident after he crashed his car on Route 9N in Jay. He was hospitalized for several days at CVPH Medical Center for injuries he received in the wreck.

PICKUP IMPOUNDED

It was not yet known if Aubin had a valid driver’s license, LaFountain said, or if drugs or alcohol were involved.

He said police tried other means of subduing the man, attempting to overpower him and using pepper spray.

Aubin was 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds, the captain said. He would not say whether Aubin was larger or smaller than the troopers he confronted, stressing that physical size doesn’t always make a difference in such cases.

Aubin’s truck was impounded by police as the investigation continued, LaFountain said.

He said Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague was notified, and police were consulting with her office.

‘IT’S A SAD DAY’

Aubin was a track maintenance worker at the Olympic bobsled run in Lake Placid.

He had been employed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority since 2009, according to ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin.

“He was a bobsled passenger ride pilot as well,” he said.

Aubin was still on the ORDA employee’s roster when the shooting occurred Tuesday night.

“Everyone at ORDA is deeply saddened,” Lundin said. “This is a tragedy, and our hearts and our prayers go out to his family and to the State Police who were involved. 

It’s a tragedy all the way around. It’s a sad day.”

— Staff Writer Kim Smith Dedam contributed to this report.