BUFFALO, N.Y. — A mental health crisis played out on Genesee Street and Michigan in Buffalo on Saturday.
A man was shot by Buffalo police at the intersection of Genesee and Ellicott streets after allegedly striking an officer with a baseball bat during a mental crisis call.
Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said in a press conference Saturday that a man was allegedly yelling at people on intersection of Genesee and Ellicott streets and acting aggressively while yielding a baseball bat.
"One of the officers on scene was a crisis intervention trained officer. They attempted to speak to the individual who became agitated, got up from where he was sitting and began to walk down Genesee Street," said Rinaldo.
Police say the man, who family have identified to Spectrum News as 60-year-old Willie Henley, made a striking motion towards officers, with officers attempting to use pepper spray multiple times, which Rinaldo says appeared to have no effect on the man.
Rinaldo says the man swung the baseball bat at the intersection of Ash and Genesee Streets, striking a female Buffalo police officer.
Henley faces charges of 2nd degree assault and 3rd degree criminal possession of a weapon, Rinaldo confirmed to Spectrum News Monday.
In video from an eyewitness, multiple Buffalo police officers can be seen chasing a man holding a bat. Video then shows the man turn around and swing at an officer. That's when shots were fired.
"That's when her partner, did fire two rounds, striking the suspect, one in the abdomen," said Rinaldo.
Rinaldo says the man was taken into custody and transported to ECMC, where he says he is in critical, but stable condition.
"I can tell you there were a number of officers who were present at the scene. There is body cam footage that has been recovered from the officers at the scene that is currently being reviewed by our homicide unit," said Rinaldo.
The officers involved were taken to ECMC and did not sustain serious injuries. Police say the man is in stable condition also at ECMC.
Spectrum News spoke to a witness that did not want to be identified. She said that the man suffers from a severe mental disability and that he lives at local center for adults dealing with mental illness and addiction.
She says a Buffalo Police officer comes to visit the man.
"You have an officer that comes to talk to this man every night....every night," she said.
The witness also says, she feels if that particular officer was on scene, the situation would have been different.
"It probably would have been different, it probably wouldn't have happened," she said.
Investigators say they're working with the Buffalo Police Department's internal affairs unit and they've also contacted the Erie County District Attorney's office.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown made an announcement Saturday on WUFO new initiatives in the coming weeks regarding mental health and policing.
Brown said those initiatives included discussions with the police union, which have been successful.
"Yesterday's incident was another case that we've seen in our country involving people with mental health crisis needs and their involvement with police. These situations can be very dangerous and very difficult for all involved," said Brown.
A police rep tells Spectrum News Buffalo police and the Police Benevolent Association have approved a plan to have Endeavor Health social workers partner wiith officers on mental health-related calls.