An officer has been put on leave while the Attorney General’s Office investigates, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 11/28 Sunday Morning Forecast
The deadly police shooting happened Saturday afternoon at an intersection just steps from the home 31-year-old Christopher VanKleeck shared with his parents, Trish and Brian.
“He cared about his friends. He cared about everybody. He was very loving,” said Johnathon Parson, one VanKleeck’s best friends.
Wallkill Police would only say units were responding to a disturbance and that an officer shot a man during a confrontation.
VanKleeck’s mental health appears to have been a factor in the initial call for police assistance.
“He was showing signs of getting better and then, it’s led to this over time,” Parson said. “I just want to understand why it happened this way. Was there a better way it could have went out?”READ MORE: Alec Burks, Evan Fournier Spark Knicks Past Hawks
Under a protocol that took effect in April, the case is being handled by the Office of Special Investigation in the New York Attorney General’s Office.
AG Letitia James received expanded authority to probe police-involved shootings in an effort aimed at holding police accountable.
Transparency is an element of accountability and, so far, there are many basic questions unanswered, including:
- Was VanKleeck armed?
- How many cops responded?
- What de-escalation efforts were made before the shooting?
A source in the AG’s Office told CBS2 investigators are evaluating how to release more information without compromising the probe by a unit that only got up and running in April.
The office said one element of the investigation is determining if Wallkill Police have body camera video of the fatal shooting or events leading up to it.
VanKleeck’s family acknowledged the frustration over the unanswered questions. His uncle, Anthony Lucarelli, released a statement saying the shooting “appears to be… justifiable.”MORE NEWS: Suns Extend Win Streak To 16 With Victory Over Nets
“My nephew, brother’s son, Christopher VanKleeck, after a long struggle with mental illness, was shot in what appears to be a justifiable shooting by the Town of Wallkill Police Department,” Lucarelli said. “The Wallkill Police Department and the New York State Police have been professional and compassionate throughout this ordeal. Our family is cooperating with what we know will be a thorough investigation. We ask that the public not judge the situation prior to any investigative outcome.”