BUFFALO, NY – One day after a man was shot and killed by Buffalo police, after the suspect allegedly shot an officer, Mayor Byron Brown said the officer’s life was only spared by fate.
“The officer today is lucky to be alive,” said Brown. “One inch difference, and it would be a very different story today.”
On Sunday afternoon, Officer Joseph Acquino and his partner initiated a traffic stop near at Garfield Street and Hartman Place in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood.
According to police, the subject of the stop, now identified as 26-year-old Jose Hernandez-Rossy of Buffalo, became combative, and during a struggle, fired toward Aquino at close range.
The bullet grazed the officer’s head, ripping off most of his ear, which was surgically reattached by doctors at ECMC.
"Thank God this officer isn't dead," said Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda. “As the mayor said, had that bullet been an inch or even a half-inch closer to the officer, this would be a different press conference.
The Mayor and the Commissioner spoke at a Monday afternoon news conference that yielded very little new information than what police had released Sunday night. Derenda said he could still not comment on the nature of the traffic stop.
“I haven’t got a final report, so I don’t have all the details at this point," Derenda said.
Acquino's partner Officer Justin Tedesco, according to police, opened fire on the suspect hitting him in the arm.
A well placed police source says that despite being shot, Hernandez-Rossy was able to run almost four blocks to a location near Tonawanda Street, where he collapsed. The bullet apparently severed an artery, according to our source, resulting in his wound being fatal.
In dispatch audio from a responding ambulance crew, medics reported fining the suspect with “one hole in the arm with a significant amount of blood loss” and that the patient was “unresponsive”.
As a matter of course, the Erie County District Attorney’s office will investigate the incident. Derenda also confirmed that his department notified the office of the New York State Attorney General.
A 2015 executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives the Attorney General jurisdiction to take over some investigations.
However, that order pertains to unarmed citizens who die as the result of a police encounter.
Police remained near the shooting scenes on Monday continuing to look for evidence.
As of Monday afternoon, they had yet to report the recovery of the weapon Hernandez-Rossy allegedly used to shoot Officer Acquino.