Press-Republican

March 10, 2013

Autopsy: Gunshot wounds killed Aubin

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — An autopsy found Richard J. Aubin died from injuries resulting from three gunshot wounds.

Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica conducted the autopsy at Albany Medical Center.

The results of additional forensic examination and analysis are pending, State Police said in a press release.

Police continue to investigate the circumstances of Aubin’s death Tuesday night in what State Police describe in the release as “a violent struggle in which he (Aubin) grabbed a state trooper’s firearm.”

When Aubin took the gun from Trooper Marcia Pooler, police said, Trooper Leston Sheeley fired his division-issued .45 Glock automatic pistol. Aubin died in the wooded area near Liberty Road where the two officers were trying to apprehend him after a high-speed car chase on Route 9.

Pepper spray was first used against Aubin during the confrontation in the woods, but it was not effective, State Police Troop B Capt. Robert LaFountain has said.

Police initially tried to pull Aubin over for driving 95 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone and reckless driving, LaFountain said.

‘TRAGIC’

Aubin was known as Joey to his friends and family.

His mother, Cheryl Aubin, was initially at a loss for words when reached by the Press-Republican Friday evening.

“I am so numb,” she said. “I’m just flabbergasted.”

But she did share some memories of her son.

“He had an infectious smile,” Cheryl said. “Everybody was drawn to him.”

“I can’t wrap my brain around it. I’m physically ill,” said Angela Ouimette, Joey’s older sister.

“It’s just tragic, either side,” she said.

While her family is grieving, Ouimette knows others are, as well.

“I can’t imagine what the officers went through,” she said.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Ouimette and Joey’s first cousin Jessi Thwaits remember him as a gentle, fun-loving man.

“He was caring. He was always the one to make sure everybody was laughing,” Ouimette said.

Thwaits has been close to Joey since they were children, and he considered her his sister, she said.

“He was one of the most amazing men you ever met,” Thwaits said.

Her grief is mingled with disbelief at what happened to Joey.

The deadly force used was unnecessary, she thinks.

Rather than a gun, police should have used another less deadly weapon, like a Taser or a baton, to subdue Joey, Thwaits said.

“He was speeding; he didn’t rob a bank.”

At a press conference in Lewis on Wednesday, LaFountain said, “It seems to be a justified use of deadly force by one of our troopers.”

Thwaits said the black 2005 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck that Joey was driving is registered to his father, Paul Aubin.

Why the police chased Joey baffles her, she said.

“They have no idea who they’re chasing. That’s a bit much.”

Questions that she and others who knew Joey have remain unanswered, she said.

“One of my biggest questions is why are those police on active duty” if the investigation isn’t finished, Thwaits said.

In Joey’s past run-ins with police, “he resisted; he never fought,” she said.

LaFountain has said that Joey was a convicted violent felon with a history of resisting arrest.

State prison records show he was released from Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, Staten Island in December 2008. He was first in the custody of the state Department of Corrections in December 2006, according to the prison records.

He was serving time for convictions on three felonies: second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

In November 2005, Joey, then 21, allegedly assaulted David Gardner of Lyon Mountain on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh and took money from him.

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

WORKED AT ORDA

Cheryl, Ouimette and Thwaits knew a man apart from all that, though.

“He made mistakes in his past, but this man served his time. He was going to work every single day,” Thwaits said.

Joey was a track maintenance worker and a passenger-ride pilot at the Olympic bobsled run in Lake Placid, Olympic Regional Development Authority spokesman Jon Lundin said Wednesday.

He had worked there since 2009, 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,” Lundin said.

Joey was drug tested every day at work, Cheryl said.

“He was clean and sober going on a year. I think it was 13 months,” she said.

In addition to his immediate family, Joey also leaves behind his girlfriend, Amanda Murphy, and her son, Declan, who was called Joey’s “best little buddy” in his obituary.

‘GOING TO BE MISSED’

While police describe a violent altercation, Cheryl and Ouimette think what happened will remain a mystery.

“There’s all these questions,” Ouimette said.

“I don’t think anybody will ever know what happened,” Cheryl said.

“He’s really going to be missed,” Ouimette said, crying.

Donations in Joey’s memory can be made to the Elmore SPCA.

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.com