The New York Police Department has released its first-ever bodycam-recorded video of a police shooting.
In a report from the New York Daily News, the almost 17-minute video is a compilation of the videos captured from the four police officers sent to check on Bronx resident Miguel Richards on September 6. The cops were called by Richards’ landlord, who had requested a wellness check because he had not seen Richards in awhile.
WARNING: Video contains graphic footage
The video shows the confrontation between the officers and Richards, who can be seen in a corner wearing sunglasses and holding a knife in one of his hands while the other is behind his back. He does not seem to comply with the officers, who repeatedly ask him to put down the knife, with one officer even saying “I don’t want to shoot you, but I will if you don’t drop that knife.”
“Dude, what’s in your other hand? You understand, you are seconds away from getting shot if you don’t tell us what’s in that other hand,” another officer said. “Let me see your other hand. Do you want to die?”
Richards’ landlord, along with two friends of Richards’, was also present during the standoff, begging Richards to listen to the cops. Another officer arrived and tried to subdue Richards with a Taser but the altercation ended in Richards being shot when he raised the arm that was behind his back, and pointed what ultimately was revealed to be a toy gun. The officers ended up firing 16 shots at Richards.
Although officers reportedly told Richards to drop the knife 44 times, critics are saying that the officers did not do enough to defuse the situation.
“Mr. Richards seems to exhibit no immediate threat to the officers,” Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Practice at the Legal Aid Society, told DNA Info. “Moreover, these officers demonstrate zero knowledge in identifying and handling a situation involving an individual who may be struggling with mental illness.”
Richards, a 31-year-old college foreign exchange student from Jamaica, had a history of mental health problems. In situations such as these, officers are supposed to let the Emergency Services Unit take over because they are better trained for these situations. However, the unit was still downstairs when the shooting took place.
The officers involved in the incident were not charged but the Bronx District Attorney is reviewing the case. The first phase of bodycams for NYPD police officers occurred several months back when cops in the Washington Heights area received the devices.