Ellazar Williams, 19-years-old, became paralyzed after being involved in an Albany police-involved shooting, which is now being investigated. Ellazar was shot in the back, and is no longer able to care for himself.
As a result of Ellazar's paralysis, Katia West, his girlfriend, quit her two jobs-- on the cleaning staff at a Colonie hotel and as a waitress at a South End Diner--in order to care for Ellazar. Katia now has no income, and has depleted her meager savings.
A foster child, who has aged out of care, Ellazar has Medicaid through the foster care system but he and his girlfriend are still struggling to access long term care services which are not typically provided for someone so young. Because of this, many of Ellazar’s medical needs are not being met and Katia has been struggling to meet his needs including 24 hour daily care.
The Center for Law and Justice, based in Albany, NY, is in direct communication with Ellazar and Katia, and have been working to raise funds for Ellazar, including by helping start this fundraising campaign. Katia, is a direct beneficiary of the campaign and will be responsible for withdrawing all funds raised by this campaign. The funds will be used to support Katia and Ellazar's needs, which are identified below.
"The University of Alabama’s National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center and the CDC have estimated these costs and say that the first year of any type of paralysis will cost the most (up to $900,000 at the most severe level) and in subsequent years, less, but still total nearly $200,000 per year” [https://caregiver.com/articles/caring_for_the_paralyzed/]
Kaita has stated that Ellazar needs several items, including:
· Non-covered medical services, such as a personal care assistant, out of network specialist, rehabilitation services and alternative and holistic therapies.
· Co-pays for covered medical services.
· Medical supplies, such as adult diapers, catheters, over the counter medications and medical supplies.
· A full size therapeutic bed (to prevent further bedsores)
· Non-covered medications and co-pays for covered medications.
· Medical Transportation Cost
· Current rent and utilities obligations
· Wheel chair accessible housing (Security deposit, rent)
· Furniture for new apartment (they had to dispose of much of their furniture to turn the living room into a makeshift recovery room).
· Toiletries, personal care items
· Household supplies including cleaning items, sheets, towels blankets, washcloths etc.
· Automobile (preferably a van) that can be used to transport Ellazar daily
· Auto insurance, registration cost
· Hobbies, activities to improve his mental well being.
· Assistive technologies that support Ellazar's mobility and independence, such as lifts and ramps.
Other needs that arise that will allow Ellazar to become as independent as possible and to live with meaning and purpose.
Additionally, the couple's children and Katia's disabled mother, are also dependent on Katia and Ellazar for support and care.
**Help is needed badly, and no donation is too small.**
The TimesUnion recently published an article, dated September 18, 2018, documenting Ellazar's plight:
"Williams strained to prop himself up into a sitting position against a wall with three pillows scrunched behind his back.
His immobile legs were covered by a blanket in a makeshift bed in the living room of a second-floor flat in the South End where his girlfriend's four children and her disabled mother live.
Williams, 19, was paralyzed from the chest down after he was shot in the upper left portion of his back by a police detective on Aug. 20 behind a school on Elk Street in the city's West Hill neighborhood. Williams reportedly ran from police following a disturbance at a nearby Central Avenue convenience store where a gun allegedly was displayed. Williams allegedly had a knife when the detective chased and shot him.
What he remembers of "the incident," as Williams called the police shooting, is this: "It felt like my whole back was on fire. I was shaking. I was in mad pain."
Medical personnel intubated Williams and threaded tubes into his chest, mouth and nose. He remembered being unable to move his legs and a doctor appeared next to his hospital bed and told Williams he had bad news. The doctor said he had been shot and that he was permanently paralyzed.
His girlfriend, Katia West, serves as his around-the-clock caregiver. She pointed to an open pack of adult diapers on the bare floor. She wanted to buy him brand-name Depends, but she was broke and could only afford the Rite Aid house brand. She quit her two jobs, on the cleaning staff at a Colonie hotel and as waitress at a South End diner, so she could care for Williams. She now has no income and has run through her meager savings.
She changes his wound dressing, replaces his catheter and changes his diaper. She has run out of new catheters from a limited supply the hospital provided at discharge. She cleans old catheters in boiling water and re-uses them because she cannot afford to buy new ones. She is running low on clean bandages and medical supplies. Pill bottles containing his six medications lined a mantle above a nearby fireplace. She injects him with a blood thinner. A painkiller supplied by the hospital is running low and she cannot afford to refill the prescription.
Williams recently qualified for Medicaid coverage, but they struggle to navigate the paperwork and some of his medications and supplies are not covered.
A standout high school athlete who had played basketball in Washington Park just days before he was shot, Williams tried to comprehend that he is now a paraplegic who will likely never walk again.
"I feel scared, confused, sad, a little bit of everything," he said.
He spoke softly, almost in a whisper, and I had to lean in close to hear him over the metallic whir of two fans. West had braided his hair in tidy rows. His wispy moustache was more a boy's than a man's, and a gentle smile creased his lips, warily, after an hour of telling me his story.
Williams agreed to talk exclusively with the Times Union with the stipulation that he would not discuss details about the shooting. He is represented by attorney Steve Sharp from the public defender's office. Williams was charged with felony menacing and misdemeanor weapons possession. After an internal police review, police officials said the shooting was "justified." Community activist Alice Green, founder of the Center for Law and Justice, and other community leaders challenged the internal police probe and called for a more thorough and impartial examination of the case. Earlier this month, a few dozen people held a rally in support of Williams at Malcolm X Community Park and organizers called on police to release more information about the shooting, including all surveillance tapes.
The matter is now under review by Albany County District Attorney David Soares. The detective who shot Williams, James Olsen, who is white, was placed on administrative duties until police completed their review on Sept. 7. Williams is black.
Williams was born in the Catskills in Monticello, Sullivan County. His mother, who raised him as a single parent, moved to Washington, D.C. when he was an infant. She died when he was eight. He was placed in foster care and was shuttled between homes in several cities, including Binghamton and Poughkeepsie, and spent time with his grandmother in South Carolina.
"I didn't like being moved all the time and dealing with so many personalities," he said. "Some of the staff were mean. The lady in Poughkeepsie would not let us go outside."
His father was a sporadic presence in his son's life and is currently incarcerated in Attica state prison. He has never visited his father in prison and has not seen him in years.
On Friday, Williams was released from Albany Medical Center Hospital after being hospitalized for more than three weeks, with a bullet still lodged in his spine. He had nowhere else to go. He has struggled with homelessness, and had lived for a few weeks at the Capital City Rescue Mission in downtown Albany over the winter, after moving here from Binghamton in January.
His older brother, Nick Grimm, who lives in Albany, and a friend drove Williams home from the hospital. They carried him from a car parked on the street, up a narrow staircase to the apartment.
Last spring, after he met West, Williams began to get his life in order. He commuted 35 minutes by bus to work the morning shift at Moe's Southwest Grill in East Greenbush, where he prepped food and worked the line for the lunch hour rush. He took afternoon and evening courses at Abrookin Career and Technical Center in pursuit of a GED after dropping out of school in the 11th grade. His dream is to attend culinary school, become a chef and own a restaurant. His favorite chef is Bobby Flay. He watches cooking shows on TV and used to cook Southern dishes for West, the ones he remembered that his mother, an Alabama native, used to make for him as a boy — collard greens and sweet potatoes and fried chicken.
"He has a good attitude and doesn't let challenging things stop him," said West, whose oldest child, a son, is the same age as Williams. She had her first child at 16 and dropped out of high school. She later earned a GED and a certificate as a nursing assistant. She helps Williams transfer into a wheelchair, provided by Albany Med, and encourages him to become proficient in the chair so he can eventually work in food service. She would like to find a job as a nursing assistant. Her four children are currently staying with relatives so she can focus on Williams' care. She is working to help him regain the 25 pounds he lost while hospitalized.
West and Williams help each other stay positive, despite grim circumstances. "I try to stay focused and positive so I don't get depressed," he said. "She's my angel."
Both praised the assistance of Green, who set up a donation fund for the couple and has helped them get settled. She is focusing on their three most pressing needs: Wheelchair-accessible housing, a motorized wheelchair and food and medical supplies. She is urging city officials to join her in those humanitarian efforts.
'Dr. Green has been a blessing to us," West said. "I can't begin to thank her.'"
The article is available at: https://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Ellazar-Williams-It-felt-like-my-whole-back-was-13238248.php
Thank you for helping Ellazar and Katia.