State Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday that no criminal charges would be filed against four Nassau County police officers in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old carjacking suspect near his family’s home in Queens, saying there's "insufficient evidence."
The Feb. 25, 2020, shooting death of Matthew Felix was investigated by James’ office under New York law that allows state officials to step in because a civilian was either unarmed or may have been unarmed after police used deadly force.
The attorney general’s office said Felix pulled a gun on the owner of a Mercedes-Benz, forcing him out of the car and driving off in the vehicle, which had been advertised online for sale in Garden City Park. The owner called police to report the car stolen, and police tracked Felix to his Cambria Heights home through a tracking application found in the laptop in the car, the report from James' office said.
Nassau police followed and tried to get Felix to pull over after he'd left his residence in a different car, the report said.
When Felix slowed down, officers used their cars to get in front of and behind his car to stop it, according to the report. Officers demanded that Felix show his hands, but instead Felix put his car in reverse and hit a Nassau police car, then accelerated forward in the direction of an officer, the report said.
Four county police officers fired 13 gunshots at Felix, who was struck three times and was pronounced dead at the scene, the report said. Police recovered a loaded firearm in the center console of the car, the report said.
"The Office of Special Investigation’s approach to each case follows a lengthy and careful process in their search for justice," James said in a statement. "After a complete review of the incident and the series of events that unfolded between NCPD officers and Mr. Felix, there was insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers’ use of force was unjustified, as is required by law to substantiate criminal charges."
Although the 16-page report compiled by the attorney general’s office included video footage from a surveillance camera near the incident, audio recordings of radio communications between county police officers, along with interviews with the robbery victim, officers and a civilian witness, no police-worn body camera footage was included because Nassau police did not have them.
"The [office of attorney general] previously recommended that the NCPD adopt a [body-worn camera] program, and we take this opportunity to do so again," according to the report. "Additionally, equipping NCPD vehicles with [dashboard cameras] would provide an even greater level of transparency and we recommend this as well."
An agreement for Nassau County to pay $3,000 annual stipends to 1,700 police patrol officers to wear body cameras cleared three legislative committees on Monday, paving the way for likely passage in the full county legislature on June 28.
Nassau County police did not immediately return a request for comment.
Felix’s sister, Samantha Felix, 23, said she was "very disappointed" by the attorney general’s decision.
"Even though this wasn’t the answer that we were hoping for, this is still only the beginning of the fight for justice for Matthew," she said. "This is not the end for us."