NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Police Department has released bodycam footage of the first fatal police encounter captured on the devices since officers started wearing them this year.
The video captured the scene in the Bronx where officers shot and killed a 31-year-old man with a knife and a fake gun about a week ago.
The video, which is more than 16 minutes long, shows officers repeatedly ordering Miguel Richards to drop the knife.
“I don’t want to shoot you man, but I will if you come out with that knife, do you hear me?” an officer said.
The officers spent long minutes pleading with Richards to cooperate. He stood silently in the corner of his bedroom wearing sunglasses, hiding his right hand, and holding a knife in his left.
Officers can also be heard discussing their uncertainty over whether or not the gun Richards is holding is a toy.
Four different bodycams recorded a total of 48 minutes of video.
Camera one was worn by Officer Mark fleming, camera two was on the uniform of Officer Redmond Murphy.
Richards ignored repeated commands; 52 times the cops asked some variation of ‘what’s in your hands?’ And 44 times they told him to drop the knife.
“You understand you are seconds away from getting shot, if you don’t tell us what’s in the other hand. What’s in the other hand?” an officer shouted.
When Richards showed them a silver object in his right hand they told him to drop it.
“Ricardo, I don’t want to shoot you if that’s a fake gun in your hand, you hear me? But I will shoot you if that’s a real gun,” an officer shouts.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the bodycam also recorded audio from a friend of the man, pleading with him to cooperate.
“Dude I’m begging you dude, just do this for your mother dude,” the friend pleads.
All while more cops were rushing to the scene.
Fleming and Murphy asked ESU officer Jesus Ramos to subdue Richards with a taser.
That’s when he raised his right hand, the laser sight on the gun lit up, and the cops opened fire.
Police training expert Eugene O’Donnell said the police were clearly justified in using deadly force.
“They waited very patiently as long as they could. Tried to resolve it non-violently, overwhelmingly these are resolved non-violently, and I guess the cops were hopeful this wouldn’t end in a horrific way,” he said.
The footage of the shooting was released publicly Thursday over the objection of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
She says she supported the need for transparency but still had an obligation to her investigation into whether the officer involved should face criminal charges.
Meanwhile, the union representing NYPD officers said the body cam video should never have been released.
“The release of this footage sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes police officers’ due process rights and confidentiality protections under state law,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch. “The district attorney’s investigation into the case is still ongoing — it should be allowed to proceed free of pressure and interference, looking at all of the relevant facts alongside the video footage. Moreover, this footage constitutes a confidential personnel record that is protected under New York State Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, and releasing it in violation of the law will expose the police officers involved to a very real and substantial risk of harassment, reprisals and threats to their safety and the safety of their families. If fairness and justice are the goal, they won’t be achieved by suspending police officers’ rights whenever it is convenient to do so.”
Richards’ father has said he believed officers murdered his son in cold blood. He had no history of arrests or mental health issues.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)