Chief says parolee who shot at police ‘wanted to kill them’ City Councilman wants ‘timeout from terror’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Police Department said a parolee tried to shoot two officers when they were called to settle a family problem. The officers shot back.

Donovan Humphrey, 32, is on parole after a 2007 manslaughter and assault conviction. Humphrey is now charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.

The shootout happened just after two o’clock this morning on Remington Street. This morning, before RPD released Humphrey’s name and criminal history this morning, they admitted the man arrested was well known to police but they didn’t know who he was before they arrived.

"Chief, why do you think this person started shooting at your officers?" I asked.

"Well, I think he started shooting at them because he wanted to kill them," Chief David Smith said.

Chief Smith said no one was hit by any of the bullets but there were children in the home. Humphrey and one police officer went to the hospital but it was nothing serious.

We covered Humphrey’s sentencing in 2008.

He was convicted of manslaughter and assault for a 2007 homicide on Fulton Avenue. Humphrey killed Ajana Dortch, a mother of four, while she was sitting in a car. Another person was wounded. Humphrey was sentenced to 11 to 15 years in prison and paroled in June of 2019. Humphrey cannot legally possess a gun because of his two prior violent felony convictions.

In a release Friday afternoon, RPD said, "While on parole in January of 2021 Humphrey was arrested and ultimately indicted for Assault in the 2nd Degree. The victim, in that case, was pistol-whipped about the head and sustained substantial physical injury. He was granted and posted bail on that charge, which is still pending further adjudication in Monroe County Court."

At police headquarters during the press conference, Friday morning was Rochester City Council member Michael Patterson.

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The shootout happened in his district. And he is angry. And he wants the state to pass a law to let judges use a "dangerous standard" to keep people arrested with illegal guns in custody for a period of time.

"In this community, if you’re carrying a gun and the cops catch you a judge should have the discretion to keep you in jail for a period of time and give this community a timeout from terror," Patterson said.

Brean: "Do you honestly think there is an appetite in this community and in this state to pass some law that would keep somebody in jail longer? We just spent two years doing the opposite thing."

Patterson: "Well, we didn’t talk to the right people because if you live in the neighborhoods where people are getting shot at hell yeah there’s an appetite for it."

Brean: "What question would you ask the (local state lawmakers)?"

Patterson: "Why are you not in favor of a dangerous standard for gun charges?"

I started asking that question Friday.

Senator Jeremy Cooney said "this week in the Senate Codes Committee, I voted to advance the conversation around creating a dangerousness standard while signaling that I have serious reservations with the bill as it currently stands. While this is a standard utilized by the federal courts, I am concerned about a subjective bias in its application leading the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown New Yorkers. That said, I remain open-minded and committed to my constituents and their calls for increased public safety."

We did not get the opportunity to ask the remaining local state lawmakers. We will do that next week.

The governor’s office points out that bail reform in the budget allows judges to set bail if there is a "history of gun use." Judges can start applying the bail reform changes on Monday.

The NYCLU said danger has never been considered in New York. "New York’s criminal system has never allowed judges to guess which people will commit crimes and then penalize them," NYCLU’s Arianna Fishman wrote to me in an email.

"There’s a ton of us out here who don’t feel safe, who want to feel safe, who have a right to feel safe in their community," Patterson said. "And it’s not about your heart bleeding for the alleged perpetrator. It’s about your heart bleeding for the potential victim."

For the past 16 months, our city is averaging at least one person shot every day.