The New York City Police Department has just made public its first-ever recorded video of a police shooting. The footage shows officers opening fire on a mentally ill Bronx, N.Y., man holding a knife after police repeatedly warn him to drop his weapon.
According to the New York Daily News, NYPD officers were called to Miguel Richards’ apartment in the Bronx by his landlord, who had requested a wellness check. Upon arriving, police said they found Richards in the corner of his room. The lights were out and Richards was wearing sunglasses, holding a knife in one hand, with his right hand behind his back.
In his other hand was a toy gun, which Richards would later raise at the police, authorities say. One cop shot his stun gun at Richards; two others opened fire, killing him.
The NYPD released each of the videos captured from the four responding officers’ body cameras. The department also shared a 17-minute compilation of all the footage compiled, which we’ve included below. In total, seven videos were released.
Editor’s note: Video contains graphic footage.
Throughout the standoff, the footage shows, the 31-year-old Richards says nothing and appears expressionless, though the flashlights make it hard to see his features at several points in the video. He also doesn’t appear to comply with officers, who repeatedly ask him to drop the knife. In total, BuzzFeed News counted 44 times the officers beseeched Richards to drop his weapon.
At one point, an officer is heard saying, “I don’t want to shoot you, but I will if you don’t drop that knife.”
Richards’ landlord and two friends, who were at the scene, also beg him to comply with the cops.
“Dude, put your hands up!” one of them yells. “It’s not a joke.”
But the standoff escalates once Richards raises the toy gun at the cops, who indicate that they aren’t sure if the gun is real.
One officer, whom DNAinfo identified as Mark Fleming, calls out to Richards: “I don’t want to shoot you if you’ve got a fake gun in your hand, you hear me? But I will shoot you if that’s a real gun.”
Officers end up firing 16 shots at Richards.
With the footage made public, speculation will certainly fly over whether officers could have done more to de-escalate the situation, especially considering Richards’ mental condition.
Studies in recent years show that those with mental disabilities are 16 times more likely to be killed by police. A Washington Post report from 2015 found that a quarter of the people shot by officers that year were mentally ill.
According to BuzzFeed, the NYPD starting equipping its officers with body cameras in April of this year as part of a pilot program to increase transparency.
By the end of the year, an expected 1,200 NYPD cops will be equipped with the technology, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.