BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– Buffalo Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting Saturday, after initially responding to a mental health crisis call.
According to Buffalo Police, just before 3 p.m. on Saturday. Officers responded to a mental health crisis call that a man was swinging a bat around and was yelling at people.
Police say when officers arrived near Genesee Street and Michigan Avenue they tried talking to the man, who then got up and started walking away. Police followed him and pleaded with him to put the bat down and talk.
Police say the man began gesturing that he was going to swing at police. Officers tried to use pepper spray to defuse the situation, but say it did not work. Then when officers tried once more to stop the man, that’s when police say he attacked.
“The gentleman swung a baseball bat, striking a female Buffalo Police officer when we attempted to swing the bat a second time at her, that’s when her partner did fire two rounds, striking the suspect one time,” Buffalo Police Captain Rinaldo said.
Police say the man is in critical condition, but is stable.
That officer did not sustain any injuries and police are reviewing body cam footage.
“Part of the investigation will be what brought the officers there, how they handled it , attempt at de-escalation and what lead to the eventual shooting of the subject,” Rinaldo said.
Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen calls the entire incident alarming.
“Any time there is any shooting, police involved or civilian, I’m always very concerned but especially in light of where our country is right now,” Pridgen said.
Police say a crisis trained officer did attempt to speak to the individual, Pridgen says officers should have someone else with more training to help with mental health calls.
“I think it’s important to move mental health specialists to scenes like this as quickly as we move officers,” Pridgen said.
John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, gave the following statement on Saturday:
“As the investigation continues into the details of today’s incident on Genesee Street, we believe our officers followed Departmental protocols and New York law in responding to an individual who attacked a Buffalo police officer with a baseball bat. The officer was struck repeatedly and was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.
“Officers on the scene, including a member from the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), pleaded with the individual to drop the bat. Despite these efforts the individual ultimately attacked the officer who was injured.
“The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association has been actively communicating with City officials, members of the Common Council and police administrators to improve police interactions with people with mental health issues.
“This type of interaction is extremely dangerous and can quickly turn into a life or death situation. Due to these concerns, the PBA is advocating a collaborative process to enhance training and refine protocols to properly address this public health and safety issue.”