Rochester Police union and city council members release statements about officer-involved shooting

City council members say “underlying systemic failures” led to officer-involved shooting

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Several City Council members say “underlying systemic failures” led to a Rochester Police officer shooting and killing a man who was holding a replica gun on Christmas Eve.

RPD was responding to call for two men, one with a gun, walking on Murray Street toward Lyell Avenue. When one of the men started running with the replica gun, an officer chased him, ordered him to drop the weapon, and then fired five shots, shows body-worn camera footage that RPD released on Wednesday. The 46-year-old city resident, Todd Novick, died at the hospital.

City Council members Mary Lupien, Kim Smith, and Stanley Martin released a statement on Thursday about the officer-involved shooting, referring to the replica gun that Novick was carrying as a “toy gun.” The statement says:

“We share our deepest condolences with the family and friends of Todd Novick who was shot and killed by an RPD officer on Christmas Eve while fleeing and in possession of a toy gun. We grieve with our community, and all those who have been impacted by this tragic incident. It’s imperative that we reflect and examine the underlying systemic failures that led to this preventable death, including policies around RPD foot pursuits and sale of realistic toy weapons.

As with any officer-involved shooting, the state Attorney General’s Office, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and RPD’s Major Crimes Unit are investigating. In addition, the Rochester Police Accountability Board is investigating. The statement from the council members says:

“We call on Mayor Evans and Corporation Counsel to work with the Rochester Police Accountability Board to ensure an independent and transparent investigation of the incident and to support any changes to RPD training, policies or procedures that may be recommended to aid in the prevention of loss of life in the future.” 

The Locust Club, the union that represents Rochester Police officers, released a statement disagreeing with the council members, saying the officers acted as they were trained. Here is the statement:

“Certainly, the Locust Club strongly disagrees with several of their characterizations regarding this event, which are generally unsupported by either the facts or the law. The Locust Club members who were involved in this event acted in accordance with their training, RPD policies on the use of deadly force, and both New York and Federal law.”

“The Locust Club will work with the involved members and their counsel to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into the matter. Any loss of life that occurs during the course of our members’ duties is tragic. The suspect’s actions determine the officers’ response. In those instances, our members will perform their duties in strict accordance with their training and the law.”

“Referring to this suspect having a “toy gun” is both misleading and inflammatory. Without a close inspection of this replica gun, it is impossible to tell is was not real. These City Council members should be upset and focus on the over 50 senseless murders of community members this year alone.”

“We extend our condolences to the family of the individual involved in the incident from December 24th. At the same time, the Locust Club will do everything possible to support the health and wellness of our involved members and their families, who have also been greatly affected by these events.”

Mayor Malik Evans released this statement about the officer-involved shooting:

“The officer-involved shooting on Christmas Eve was a tragedy for our city. One person lost his life and other lives were changed forever. My condolences are with the family of the person who was killed, and I am thankful that there were no other injuries. I am grateful to the men and women in law enforcement for their efforts to keep our community safe. The City of Rochester is actively cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and is also conducting our own internal investigation.”

City Council President Miguel Melendez and council members Mike Patterson, Willie Lightfoot, LaShay Harris, Mitch Gruber, and Jose Peo issued this statement:

The officer-involved shooting on Christmas Eve is being investigated by the Attorney General, as prescribed by New York State law.  We offer our condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of the deceased, and everyone involved in this tragic incident. In the interest of justice – justice for the deceased, for the community, and for the officers involved – we call on Attorney General James to be certain her investigation is fair, judicious, and transparent.”