Calls in Rochester for release of body camera video in fatal officer-involved shooting at Open Door Mission

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Multiple local officials and organizations are calling for the release of the body camera footage of Wednesday morning’s fatal officer-involved shooting at Open Door Mission.

A statement Wednesday from Rochester’s Police Accountability Board Chair Shani Wilson on the shooting:

“This morning, the Police Accountability Board learned of media reports that a Rochester Police Department officer shot and killed a man at the Open Door Mission,” said Chair Shani Wilson. “I asked RPD to provide the PAB with all relevant body-worn camera footage of this incident. I also asked RPD to immediately release that footage to the public. I have not received a response to either of my requests.

The PAB cannot comment on what we have not seen. However, this latest incident may raise the same questions our community has been asking for months about officer training, RPD culture, and the Person in Crisis Team. The PAB is searching for answers to these pressing questions through our open investigation into the policies, practices, procedures, and training involved in the Harris Street and Portland Avenue pepper spraying incidents. This latest incident spotlights the need for immediate attention to our repeated, unfulfilled requests for information. The community deserves a full and transparent review of all these incidents.”

City Councilmember, and Rochester mayoral candidate, Malik Evans also called on RPD to release the full footage:

“This morning the Rochester community woke up to tragic news of a use of force incident in which a member of the Rochester Police Department shot and killed an individual,” Evans said in a statement Wednesday. “Initial reports state that the individual had a knife and was threatening to harm himself and the officer. Our community has been on edge for over a year as it relates to policing in Rochester due to numerous incidents involving police interactions with residents. For the sake of transparency, it is important that all body-worn camera footage and any other surveillance camera footage in the area be released to the community without undue delay. The role the mental health unit played in this incident, particularly the Person in Crisis Team, should also be addressed as the information of this tragedy is released to the public. The public deserves a full and honest account of this incident.”

According to the Rochester Police Capt. Mark Mura, officers responded to Open Door Mission around 2:55 a.m. Capt. Mura said that according to reports, the man — who Open Door Mission later confirmed was a guest of the organization — went inside, grabbed a large knife and left on foot.

According to Mura, the responding officers reached out to ask for an officer with a taser.

“Apparently the male was cutting himself with the knife and threated to kill the officers,” Mura said. “The male then apparently moved toward the officers. One of the officers fired at least one round striking the male.”

The man was then transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by AMR where he was pronounced dead around 3:55 a.m.

When asked if it the Forensic Intervention Team (FIT) or other mental health resources were called, Mura said the whole event happened too fast.Monroe County FIT program makes 24/7 resources available 

“The entire incident unfolded in about five to six minutes so there was no time to make any other calls other then what was made.”

Open Door Mission Executive Director Anna Valeria-Iseman released the following statement on the incident:

“Our hearts are heavy at the Open Door Mission regarding the incident that occurred early this morning involving the death of one of our guests. We are praying for our guest, their loved ones, and the Rochester Police Department officers involved in this incident. As this is an ongoing police investigation, we can have no further comment at this time.”

West Main Street from Washington to Broad Street is closed while police investigate.

A statement Wednesday from City Council candidate and Free the People ROC organizer Stanley Martin:

For decades the Rochester community has called on our city government to implement changes in policing and to invest resources that truly keep people safe, like stable housing and mental health care. These demands, led by the family members of the RPD’s victims, have been largely ignored. Instead of systemic change we sorely need, our community has received meaningless, symbolic reforms, like the hiring of Black police chiefs or implicit bias training. These reforms are designed to justify massive police budgets that come at the expense of our safety and humanity. 

Because our leaders refused to act, today we find ourselves in an incredibly tragic, and painfully familiar situation; the Rochester Police Department has killed again.  

Following the senseless and preventable murder of Daniel Prude, we pleaded with City Council members and Mayor Lovely Warren to defund the police and invest in resources that keep us safe. They refused. We asked for the implementation of Daniel’s law locally to ensure that police officers are not first responders to mental health crises. They refused. We asked for a fully funded, fully staffed Police Accountability Board. They refused. We asked for the expansion of safe, affordable housing. They refused.  We asked for these changes to prevent the RPD from harming our community, yet our city government continued to leave us exposed to these savage violence workers.

In the year since Daniel Prude’s murder, Mayor Lovely Warren and her allies on council have done everything in their power to avoid accountability for themselves and the RPD. The “racial justice” initiatives they proposed; the new cops they appointed; even the Person in Crisis Team, which seems to exist only in word–each of these initiatives was designed to deflect blame, and distract us from the truth we all know: the RPD killed Daniel Prude, and our city government hid it from us for months. 

Their inaction caused the senseless murder of yet another of our most vulnerable citizens last night.  Responsibility for his death falls squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Lovely Warren, Chief Cynthia Herriot-Sullivan, and City Council members who voted for the police budget: Loretta Scott, Willie Lightfoot, Mitch Gruber, Malik Evans, Michael Patterson, Jose Peo, and Lashay Harris. Shame on them all.”

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