BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s been a week since a fatal officer-involved shooting in Buffalo, giving the members of the Police Oversight Committee to the city’s common council seven days to ponder the best way to move forward.
The shooting and the use of body cams were among the biggest topics of Tuesday’s meeting.
“There’s anger. There’s hurt. There’s lack of trust,” said Danielle Johnson, co-chair of the Police Oversight Committee Citizen Advisory Board. “We need time to grieve and time to process. This is hard. This has rocked us. This has rocked our community.”
The advisory board has hosted several neighborhood meetings to gather concerns about relations with the police.
"The issues that were most frequently brought up in our community forums relate to what happened. They fear aggressive behavior and someone dying, that is,” she said.
Council members echoed the community's concerns about the incident and transparency about the investigation.
"Whatever information we can show to help people believe in our process is hugely important, especially during this time," said Common Council member Rasheed Wyatt, who represents the University District.
Common Council President Darius Pridgen said "Whether there's new information or not, someone needs to come out and say that."
Masten District Representative Ulysees Wingo added, "The more questions we could answer before they become questions, I think, the better relationship. And then it goes to show there's nothing to hide."
The attorney general’s office did send investigators out to Plymouth Avenue the morning of the shooting, but because they determined the suspect was armed, the case does not fall under their jurisdiction. The investigation has been turned over to the Erie County District Attorney's Office.
"It is an independent investigation outside of the police department, in terms of the fact-finding and the conclusions and how this thing proceeds," said Buffalo Police Department spokesperson Capt. Jeff Rinaldo.
The BPD homicide unit and internal affairs are still conducting their own investigations.
There is surveillance video of the incident. Because a grand jury subpoena was needed to get it, the police department and DA's office legally can't release it.
The use of body cameras was also a hot topic of discussion as that pilot program ended on September 1, something those in the community say may have been helpful in this officer involved shooting.
"It would have been evidence, so we may not have even had access to it. But it's important that Buffalo police are looking at what evidence is available and making the proper decisions based off of that," said Dejon Hall, a member of the Police Oversight Committee Citizen Advisory Board.
Buffalo police are expecting to purchase body cameras over the next few months and fully implement a program in the new year.