The pellet gun that Suffolk police said Jeffrey McClure pointed...

The pellet gun that Suffolk police said Jeffrey McClure pointed at officers in June 2020 and threatened to shoot them before they opened fire, killing him. Credit: SCPD

The Suffolk police officer who shot and killed an East Northport man who pointed what turned out to be an unloaded pellet gun at law enforcement will not be criminally charged, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said.

A report from the AG's Office of Special Investigation, released Wednesday, found the officer "reasonably believed" that Jeffrey McClure, 26, was holding a rifle when he stood on the roof of his Grant Street home on June 7, 2020 and threatened to shoot police.

Investigators reviewed surveillance cameras from inside the home as well as radio transmissions. They also interviewed responding officers.

“Following a thorough review of the facts and evidence, OSI determined criminal charges could not be pursued in this case,” James said in a statement. “That said, my heart aches for all who held Mr. McClure dear as they continue to cope with the tragic loss of a loved one, and I offer Mr. McClure’s family and friends my sincere condolences.”

Jeffrey McClure's mother, Lynn, said she met with officials in the attorney general's office in Hauppauge this week but left when informed the officer would not be charged. 

"I really don't know," Lynn McClure said when asked about the investigation's conclusion. "I'm up in the air on everything."

The report recommends that the Suffolk County Police Department accelerate training officers to respond to mental health crises; improve tactical response procedures and fully implement a program outfitting cops with body cameras.

To date, 20% of Suffolk police have received training from the department's new Crisis Intervention Team, which teaches officers to de-escalate situations where a subject is in emotional or mental distress, the report said.

The Suffolk County Police Department declined to comment.

Months after Jeffrey McClure's death, his father, Donald, died of a heart attack. He had called 911 on the day of the incident because his son was shooting a pellet gun in the house, threatening family members and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the report said.

When police arrived, they found Jeffrey McClure inside the home holding what they later determined was an air rifle and threatening to use it on responding officers who immediately retreated outside, investigators said.

McClure then went to the basement, shouting "he was going to kill someone" as four officers reentered the home, according to the report. 

He then appeared at the bottom of the basement stairs, pointed the apparent weapon at officers and shouted that he was going to shoot them, the report said.

Jeffrey McClure then went from the basement to the backyard to the roof of his house, where he again pointed the apparent weapon at police and threatened to open fire, investigators said.

“If you point your gun at me I will shoot you," McClure shouted, according to the responding officers.

When McClure ignored an officer's demand to drop the apparent gun, the cop opened fire, shooting him in the neck and hip, according to the attorney general's report. McClure died at the scene.

Police "reasonably believed [McClure] might imminently use deadly physical force against the officers, and could have reasonably believed that deadly physical force was necessary to defend them," the report concluded.

An autopsy found McClure had marijuana in his system and a blood alcohol level of 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit, documents show.

Responding officers told investigators that Lynn McClure informed them during the incident of a gun safe in the basement containing hunting rifles, handguns and ammunition and that "she was not sure" if her son could open it, the report said.

Then-Suffolk Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante told Newsday in June 2020 that officers initially believed Jeffrey McClure was armed with a nonlethal pellet gun, but when he descended into the basement they had no way of knowing if he had switched to a more dangerous weapon.

“The weapon looked like a real rifle to the officers,” Gigante said. “It is impossible when someone is a distance away and elevated on a roof to distinguish a facsimile type weapon from a real weapon.”

Donald McClure told Newsday at the time that responding officers knew his gun safe was locked and he had the only key in his pocket.

“They knew he had no access to other guns and that the pellet gun was empty,” Donald McClure said. “They were told two times that he could not get into the safe.”

Police later determined that Jeffrey McClure never accessed the gun safe and did not switch weapons.

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