AG’s investigation concludes no criminal conduct by officers who shot man on Glasser Street in May
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the May 14 shooting death of Mark Gaskill concluded that his death did not rise to the level of criminal conduct by Rochester Police Officers.
The incident started during the early morning hours when police responded to a ShotSpotter activation.
Police tracked a car leaving the scene of the activation using cameras and pulled it over a few minutes later on Glasser Street near Masseth Street.
Gaskill was sitting in the back seat. Body camera footage shows a passenger in the front seat telling the officers who pulled them over that they were going to the hospital.
Police and the Attorney General’s Office say Gaskill drew a gun from his waistband with his right hand and body camera footage shows both officers retreat and direct Gaskill to drop the gun several times.
The Attorney General’s Office says Gaskill opened the door and appeared to get out of the car before police told him to show his hands.
The AG’s Office says police then fired 11 shots, hitting Gaskill six times.
After the shooting, police found a loaded semi-automatic pistol, which the AG’s Office says was near Gaskill’s right hand, but recovered from the car.
The AG’s Office says that under New York’s justification law, it would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were not justified in their use of deadly, physical force against Gaskill, which would require it to prove that the officers could not reasonably believe that Gaskill was about to use deadly, physical force against them or that they could not retreat without putting the safety of themselves or others at risk.
Since a loaded gun was found at the scene, the AG’s Office says it can not meet that burden.
The full report is below (mobile users, click here):
Rochester Mayor James Patrick Smith released the following statement on the report:
"We received news today, as did the rest of the community, that the Attorney General’s Office completed their investigation into this matter as is their obligation under New York State law. The administration will continue to work with the NYS Attorney General’s Office to ensure transparency for the public."
The Rochester Police Locust Club, which is the union that represents Rochester Police Officers, sent the following statement:
"Regarding the press release from the NYS Attorney Generals’ office that was released today regarding an officer involved shooting that took place on May 14, 2021, it should be clear to anyone reading the report on the investigation and Attorney General Letitia James personal comments at the end of the press release that she is committed to doing everything but a fair and unbiased investigation that involves police officers.
"While it is always tragic when any life is taken the realities are that police officers have a very difficult and at times a very dangerous job. In the performance of their sworn duties, they may unfortunately find themselves confronted with an armed individual who refuses lawful commands or takes actions that place the lives of the officers and other around them in peril. Police officers in those situations have a sworn duty to take appropriate actions.
"The written report of the AG’s investigation shows the extensive investigations and reviews that are completed on these deadly encounters that officers face as documented in the written report.
"What the written report also shows is the length that Attorney General James goes in directing the narrative in such a way to suggest that despite her office’s best efforts they are not able to pursue criminal charges against the police officers.
"Even though the investigation and evidence unquestionably show that the involved officer’s actions were completely justified and unfortunately had no other options available to them due to the actions of the armed individual that they encountered.
"The last paragraph of the press release written in Attorney James own words clearly shows the political agenda that she has undertaken as Attorney General, and fortunately the unsuccessful attempt to position herself as a viable candidate for NYS Governor.
‘My office is committed to conducting fair and thorough investigations into every case we review,’ said Attorney General James. ‘Based on an extensive review of the facts of this case, OSI determined that the officers involved were not unjustified in their use of deadly force, as the law requires for bringing criminal charges. Despite the conclusive evidence in this case, I know Mr. Gaskill’s family is still coping with the loss of a loved one, and I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Gaskill family.’
"While condolences to the family for their loss is appropriate. What is not is the complete disregard for recognizing the actions of the police officers who placed their lives in danger while protecting innocent lives who are at risk in our city.
"Our neighborhoods are plagued with unprecedented levels of violence from individuals carrying and using illegal firearms.
"While Ms. James takes time to give a veiled apology for not being able to persecute two brave and honorable police officers, we should all take time out to recognize and be thankful that no innocent children were hurt by the reckless shooting that took place with an illegal firearm before those officers were able to intervene.
"And to also remember that while most of us were safe and asleep in our homes at four am in the morning, two brave officers were out on our streets risking their lives. And our city is a little safer tonight because of that."