BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One man was shot dead after police responded overnight to Plymouth Avenue, on the west side of Buffalo. Police said the 32-year-old had a gun in his hand and ignored commands to drop the weapon.
Family members and people in the community at large say this incident strains an already tense relationship between community and police.
According to the Buffalo Police Department, officers were responding to a call at 3:06 a.m. Wednesday for a subject with a handgun on the 400 block of Plymouth, near Rhode Island Street.
Police say Rafael 'Pito' Rivera allegedly took off, and there was a short foot chase.
Investigators don't believe Rivera fired the weapon, but they say it was still a situation they believed prompted deadly force.
Officer Elnur Karadzhaev fired his weapon and the suspect died at the scene.
Karadzhaev was not shot, but he was accompanied by another officer to a Buffalo hospital, where was treated and later released.
Police confirm a weapon was found at the scene.
Neighbors say they're confused and shocked by the incident.
“It's scary because someone was caring a gun and walking the street. And it’s really scary because it affects the society and the neighborhood in this area," said Bhazat Baswa, who lives in the area.
Not long after the scene cleared, more than a dozen family and friends came down to the parking lot where the man was shot. They set up candles and mourned together.
Family members and friends say this incident strains an already tense relationship between community and police.
"It's just police brutality. Cops abusing their power,” said Anthony Fuentes, a friend of the victim. “That's not right. You all wouldn't like it if we were out here doing crazy stuff. We don't do that over here. We try to take care of our community.”
A spokesperson for the Erie County District Attorney's Office says it's looking into the shooting. The district attorney also notified the state attorney general's office.
Karadzhaev is a two-year veteran of the force and is on administrative leave, per police department policy.
The shooting happened near a PUSH Buffalo office where Rivera's aunt is a board member. They released a statement which said in part:
"As a social justice organization with deep roots in the West Side community, we believe this kind of police violence is wholly unwarranted and in this instance has resulted in a loss of life that will have incalculable consequences for families,neighbors, community members, and relations with local law enforcement. As we await further information we stand in solidarity with our community and all of those affected by this tragic loss.
We are fully committed to working with our community to continue building pathways towards collective healing and transformative justice. We demand cooperation and accountability from the police.
And we demand justice for the individual who was gunned down. This incident has directly impacted several community members who currently work for or serve our organizations in different capacities."