NYPD body camera videos released Thursday showed a deadly confrontation in which officers repeatedly tried to coax a Bronx man into dropping a knife, then shot him when he raised his other hand with what appeared to be a gun with a laser sight.
It was the first video release of a fatal police-involved shooting under the body camera program that kicked off in April. Police officials said the decision to show the images was an effort to balance NYPD desires for transparency and the need for Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to conduct an investigation.
The graphic, 16-minute compilation of the Sept. 6 incident involved a case in which officers shot and killed Miguel Richards, 31, in what started out as a wellness check after his landlord reported not seeing him for a couple of days. As reporters viewed the video, Chief of Department Carlos Gomez offered some descriptive comments and said officers fired 16 rounds.
The video was derived from recordings from the body cameras of four officers, two of whom initially responded, and two others who arrived later with a stun gun. The first two who responded to 3700 Pratt Ave. in the Edenwald section were let in by the landlord to a rear second-story apartment, where the officers found Richards standing by a wall at the foot of a bed.
“Drop the knife, put your hand up, drop that knife, I don’t want to shoot you, drop that knife,” said NYPD Officer Mark Fleming of the 47th Precinct during the initial moments as he and Officer Redmond Murphy confronted the knife-wielding man.
“I don’t want to shoot you,” Fleming said a number of times as part of what a police official said was efforts to de-escalate the situation.
Richards didn’t say a word during the confrontation and ignored requests by Fleming, Murphy and a neighbor to drop the knife from his left hand. Police officials said Richards was asked 44 times to drop the knife and six times to drop a gun he held in his right hand.
“Dude, put your hands up, dude, I am pleading to you, put your hands up ” said an unidentified neighbor.
Two other 47th Precinct officers arrived with a stun gun after Fleming and Murphy requested assistance. All patrol officers in the precinct were outfitted with body cameras in July.
The recording showed Richards in the final moments raising his right hand, which held what turned out to be a toy gun that flashed a red laser dot at the officers. Another image from a body camera showed Murphy, Fleming and Jesus Ramos flinch, possibly because of the laser. Officer Ramos then fired the stun gun and, two seconds later, Murphy and Fleming fired their handguns.
Richards fell by the foot of the bed. The city medical examiner said he had one fatal gunshot wound.
Gomez said the department force investigation division was probing the incident with prosecutor Clark.
A law enforcement source said all of the cops, who remain on active duty, reported seeing the red laser dot.