Rochester Police: Officer shoots, kills man armed with 'large knife'

Rochester Police: Officer shoots, kills man armed with 'large knife' Photo: News10NBC.

WHECTV
Updated: March 16, 2021 07:22 PM
Created: March 10, 2021 04:38 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Police said an officer shot and killed a man Wednesday morning as they say he moved toward police while armed with a "large knife."

The incident happened on West Main Street, right by the Open Door Mission.

Rochester Police Captain Mark Mura said officers were called to the Mission just before 3 a.m. for a call of a man armed with the knife. Mura said the man had grabbed the knife from inside the mission but had left the building by the time officers got there. Officers quickly found him. Mura said the man was cutting himself with the knife and making threats to kill officers.

Police traveled onto Cascade Drive then Main Street walking, trying to talk the man down; but in front of Open Door Mission, security video and body camera video then shows him suddenly charging at police with the knife, and one of them shooting about five times.

Police requested an officer with a taser, but Mura said the man "moved forward" at police with the knife when he says an officer shot the man at least one time in the upper body.

Sister Kelly Diranco volunteers at the Mission. She says it started after the man violated one of their policies.

"He was told to leave immediately. He had broken out into violent behavior and had threatened to harm, and once he was outside he had a knife on him," Diranco said.

The Monroe County District Attorney's Office and the New York Attorney General's Office have been looking into the case. Officials say, unlike other recent high-profile cases, this one does not go directly to the attorney general because it involved an armed suspect.

City officials said the police involved have been put on administrative leave while the case is investigated.

"I believe they went out of their way to avoid a confrontation on this and that a certain point this person ran at the officers and so that obviously required that they take a different action," Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said.

The man, who has not yet been identified by police, was later pronounced dead at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Herriott-Sullivan declined to name the officer.

The District Attorney's Office says because the victim has not been identified, and it is unclear whether the District Attorney's Office or the New York Attorney General's Office will have jurisdiction over the case, the body-worn camera footage will not be released Wednesday.

Some city officials have seen the footage and Mayor Lovely Warren says it's heartbreaking.

"No person can look at this video and think that 'Oh this is OK,'" Warren said.

Warren says she watched body camera video of the incident, and so did members of the City council who went to police headquarters.

"But this gentleman is not charging at me with a knife," Warren said. "I'm watching it on a video."

Watch Herriott-Sullivan's and Warren's press conference in the player below.

Watch Mura's full briefing in the player below.

Watch News10NBC's interview with former RPD Chief Cedric Alexander in the player below.

The man was a guest at Rochester's Open Door Mission, the homeless shelter said. 

"We are praying for our guest, their loved ones, and the Rochester Police Department officers involved in this incident," the Open Door Mission said in a Facebook post.

It said the shelter would not make any further comments.

Lawmakers, activists respond

We've compiled an early list of reactions here. So far, Free the People Roc, Rochester's Police Accountability Board, and Malik Evan, candidate for Rochester mayor, have released statements.

Were mental health resources used?

When asked if  RPD contacted Monroe County's Forensic Intervention Team, which is deployed to mental health calls, Mura said the situation developed within "about five to six minutes" and he says there was not enough time to make other calls.

What's next?

News10NBC has filed several Freedom of Information requests (FOIL) with the RPD, including to obtain the body-worn camera footage, as well as any reports related to the incident. We're also looking to police Taser policies.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley has requested the bodyworn camera video not be released to the public until she can review it.

Watch News10NBC's Lynette Adams' original report on News10NBC Today Wednesday morning. 


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