Fireworks at City Council committee over statements on shooting involving RPD officer

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — There were fireworks at a City Council committee meeting Thursday, following controversial comments last week by three members following a police-involved shooting.

Their statements led to a heated exchange at the Public Safety Committee meeting. And those three members — Stanley Martin, Kim Smith and Vice President Mary Lupien — continued to feel the backlash from their fellow councilmembers.

“There’s this underlying notion that just because he had drugs or he had a gun it somehow means that he should have been shot in the face, and I just want to challenge that. I’m not saying that what he was doing by any means was right, I’m just saying that at the end of the day he is a human being, and human lives matter. It is always a tragedy when someone is shot, no matter who shoots and we can acknowledge that,” Martin said.

Councilmember Willie Lightfoot Jr. said, “Never once have you stepped into a gun violence meeting that I’ve had in this chamber, to bring the energy about gun violence being a problem in our community. So it’s a bit insulting, to be quite honest with you. But when there’s an police-involved incident, there’s all this energy.”

As the meeting progressed, Councilmember Michael Patterson, referring to the night of the shooting, said, “We very easily could have had an officer shot. We very easily could have had an officer killed. And something tells me, based on the responses when we HAD an officer killed last year, that y’all wouldn’t have had this kind of energy if that’d been an officer killed.”

The meeting then erupted into a shouting match before the president called for a recess.

The shooting last week happened after police say a suspect was caught on camera firing a gun at a car. Body-worn camera footage shows an officer pursue that suspect before the suspect lunges at him. Police say they fought over the officer’s gun before the suspect was shot in the jaw.

Lupien, Martin and Smith released a statement offering “deepest sympathies” to the suspect, called the shooting “not normal” and “unacceptable,” and said “police are equipped with non-lethal weapons intended to preserve life.” They issued the statement even though they hadn’t watched the body-worn camera footage.