NYPD officials are preparing to release — perhaps as early as this week — the first body camera images of last week’s fatal police shooting of a man in the Bronx, officials said.
Both police Commissioner James O’Neill and Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark have met on the issue and have agreed that any release should be done in a way that doesn’t compromise the prosecutor’s ongoing investigation into the Sept. 6 afternoon incident that took the life of Miguel Richards, 31, law enforcement officials told Newsday.
According to police, officers from the 47th Precinct went to 3700 Pratt Ave. on a wellness check after getting a call from a landlord who reported not seeing Richards for a couple of days. When police were let into the apartment by the landlord, they saw Richards brandishing a knife in his left hand with his right hand behind his back, Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said later.
Richards didn’t comply with repeated requests by the cops to drop the knife and at some point pulled out what later turned out to be toy gun with a laser sight and pointed it at the officers, Gomez said. At that point, the two cops first on the scene fired their service handguns while another fired a stun gun, Gomez said. Richards was hit several times and pronounced dead at the scene.
A law enforcement source said about 12 minutes of body camera recordings from the devices worn by four officers on the scene would likely be released out of the about 90 minutes of footage between the time police first arrived and when the shooting took place. The selected images are those deemed most relevant in the context of the confrontation, the source said.
The NYPD began outfitting officers with body cameras in April, with the 47th Precinct getting the devices in early summer. The department hopes to have 22,000 officers using the cameras by 2019.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said O’Neill and Clark met last Friday and discussed the various issues, including the prosecutor’s concerns about possible witnesses being influenced by any release of the tapes before they were interviewed. Another law enforcement source said police wanted to be as transparent as they could be about the release of the recordings, which is within their purview.
In a statement, Clark spelled out the two overriding concerns of her office and the police on the video issue, saying she wanted the footage released after she finished her probe.
“Transparency is critical to building trust between community and law enforcement,” Clark said. “Notwithstanding, I still have an obligation to protect the integrity of the investigation into this shooting. Releasing videos to the public during the early stages of an investigation may resolve some questions about the incident but it many compromise the integrity of the investigation.”