New York AG Letitia James’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) has opened an investigation into the death of a civilian, following an encounter with members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) on August 4, 2023.
About the Announcement
The Attorney General’s announcement does not indicate any suspicion of wrongdoing by police. But it’s concerning in another, indirect way. That’s because it’s only one of three such deaths requiring investigations in the past week.
The other two are upstate, in Rochester and Niagara Falls, but three in a single week is disturbing.
The rules are straightforward:
“Pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 70-b, OSI assesses every incident reported to it where a police officer or a peace officer, including a corrections officer, may have caused the death of a person by an act or omission.”
But the 540 Main Street incident may be different in significant ways.
Concerns About the Friday Night Shooting Death
The first concern is the worst from a community standpoint. Neither NYPD or RIOC’s own, while boosting about their effective actions in avoiding additional injuries, have had the common decency to identify the victim by name.
Neither has uttered a word of remorse or empathy toward the 21-year-old’s shattered family. On the contrary, RIOC preened in a disgusting display of farcical dishonesty, claiming a role they did not play.
Other Issues in the Investigation:
- After a hurried press conference shortly after the shooting, why has NYPD not followed up with any details – or even names of the officers or the victim?
- Why has there been no mention of body camera footage verifying their story?
- Why wasn’t a mental health expert called in to deescalate before charging into the building? As RIOC pointed out, the situation abruptly worsened after NYPD flooded Main Street with as many as a dozen vehicles with lights flashing.
- What does “tried” using a Taser mean? What does body camera footage show?
- How any shots were fired and which were fatal?
- Although RIOC says their officers are trained in handling stressful incidents – and their office is just steps away – they did nothing to calm the situation before NYPD arrived. Why?
To be clear, NYPD officers suddenly found themselves in a life-threatening encounter without time for much thought. It was instant reaction time, and we can be thankful that the damages were so limited.
If NYPD reports so far are near accurate, the officers’ actions were the most effective possible, as bad as the results may be. The results could have been much worse.
But should they – or the shooting victim – have been put in that position in the first place? Was there a tactical or procedural mistake?
AG Letitia James’s investigation may sort it all out and get some clarity in the aftermath, a task which NYPD and PSD have handled poorly so far.
But it’s not the first time for the two operations. For reference, keep in mind that neither has so far shared any facts or even the name of the Sportspark drowning victim from May, 2022.
Their credibility is not well-served by protective secrecy, yet it continues.