Under the Freedom of Information Law in New York, 2 On Your Side requested the Buffalo Police Department’s Firearm Use reports from Jan. 1, 2011 through July 2016. The following list, based directly on the reports provided by the department, includes each incident in which an officer fired a weapon at a suspect, at a vehicle or during patrol under unspecified circumstances.
June 7, 2016: While conducting a field interview on a homicide case, an officer fired one shot at a suspect in a vacant lot during a foot chase near East Ferry and Bailey. According to the officer’s Firearms Use report, “while attempting to search defendant for weapons, I observed the handle of a pistol in the subject’s front waistband. Defendant began to struggle and reached into his waistband for weapon. Defendant broke free and ran, while pursuing him he pointed weapon at me, I fired upon him one time.” The officer indicated the suspect was a “suspicious person,” who had a “bunch” of marijuana on him. The suspect had a black weapon. The officer fired from 30 feet away without any protective cover, but the suspect was not wounded.
June 6, 2016: Assisting on a call in the University District, an officer fired one shot from 25 to 30 feet away at a suspect who was wanted for armed home invasion. While Buffalo Police did not mention the fact an officer opened fire, the department did issue a public statement that revealed a suspect himself had fired at officers. According to police, the suspects involved in the home invasion tried to run away from police. Ultimately, police said three suspects were arrested and charged with attempted murder, burglary, robbery and criminal use of a firearm.
April 16, 2016: An officer fired two shots at a suspect in a speeding vehicle, which was “eluding police” on Davidson Street. The suspect had a black Glock firearm. “Officer saw vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed,” according to the report. The suspect was not wounded.
September 8, 2015: Responding to a home invasion on California Street in a West Side neighborhood, an officer fired one shot at a suspect armed with a silver .44 Magnum gun. The officer fired one shot from approximately 30 feet away, critically wounding the suspect.
February 28, 2015: Just before 1 a.m., an officer fired one shot at a suspect who was “fleeing in vehicle.” Buffalo Police had responded to a domestic call on the East Side, a few blocks south of the intersection of Bailey and Genesee. The officer fired from 10 feet away, but the suspect was not wounded. In the section of the Firearms Use report asking “What Weapons Did They Use,” the officer wrote, “none.” The suspect was implicated in an assault case, the report said.
May 26, 2014: On Hampshire Street, an officer fired one round at a suspect who “pointed gun in officer’s direction.” Police were investigating a call of a fight. The report did not indicate whether the bullet struck the suspect.
Dec. 6, 2012: Around 6:45 p.m., an officer fired one round at a suspect near the intersection of Best and Fillmore, following the escalation of a confrontation after a traffic stop. The incident resulted in the death of 48-year-old Isaac Parker. In 2012, police told reporters that Parker had fled from police after the traffic stop. Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said, “officers had the suspect shut off the vehicle, he became confrontational, we believe that a struggle ensued when he tried to start the vehicle and at some point, when the officer was dragged and a shot was fired in close proximity.” This was the last time a fatal encounter occurred between Buffalo Police and a suspect.
November 17, 2012: Around 1:50 p.m., an officer fired one round from his service weapon at Niagara and Forest. The Firearms Use report does not elaborate on the circumstances of this incident.
August 29, 2012: At 3:50 p.m., an officer fired a shot at an armed suspect on Walden Avenue. The suspect, identified by police as Lamont Cooper, was struck in the leg.
August 15, 2012: Involved in a chase on Mortimer Street, an officer fired one shot at a suspect, causing him to “turn back around” and begin “running with his hands free.” That suspect was taken into custody on Kane Street. In his report, the officer said “the defendant was wrestling with something around his waistband.” The officer “yelled ordering him to stop reaching. The defendant continued and abruptly turned sideway,” and then “raised and extended his left arm in his direction.”
August 1, 2012: At 4:15 p.m., officers respond to Esser Street after reports that a young boy had been stabbed. According to a 911 call, a caller screamed “the baby, something happened to the baby.” When police responded to the scene, a grandmother, Charlene Fears, had two knives in her hands, covered in blood. Police said Fears charged at an officer, at which point he fired two shots at her and killed her. A grand jury cleared the officer of all wrongdoing. The four-year-old boy, who was stabbed by Fears, eventually died from his injuries.
June 16, 2012: An officer discharged a weapon while exiting a patrol vehicle. The Buffalo Police Department’s report did not elaborate any further.
June 1, 2012: Around 12:45 a.m., an officer fired his weapon at a fleeing suspect on Kenmore Avenue. The suspect, identified in the report at Kareem Howard, was “apprehended and charged” under Penal Law 265, which deals with firearms possession.
May 27, 2012: An officer fired one shot on Tonawanda Street, killing 25-year-old John Sordetto. According to Police Benevolent Association attorney Tom Burton, the officer fired a shot after a “violent, violent fight” with Sordetto in which he attempted to grab the officer’s gun.
May 27, 2012: An officer fired one shot at the intersection of Fillmore and Rodney. The department’s written report did not elaborate on the circumstances.
April 5, 2012: An officer fires one shot on Hamilton Street after responding to a call of a man with a knife. According to 2 On Your Side’s archives, the man was threatening to harm himself and maybe others. The man was hit in his mid-section, but he sustained non-life threatening injuries.
October 18, 2011: An officer fired one shot at a car that was “attempting to run down several police officers during a pursuit,” which began at the intersection of William and Bailey. “The vehicle was stopped and two DEF’s were apprehended. A loaded Glock .40 CAL. was recovered,” according to the report.
September 30, 2011: While investigating the reported kidnapping of Deneer Parker, an unknown male in a black hooded sweatshirt began walking toward an officer, acting “very suspicious” and “grabbing at his waistline as he approached.” An officer pointed his Glock .40 caliber pistol at the unknown man, yelling “POLICE GET ON THE GROUND!” The unknown man then pulled a “black object from his waistline.” Believing the man had a gun, the officer fired one round at the suspect, which missed. The suspect then ran away before police apprehended him near East Delevan and Amsterdam. The unknown man, according to the officer’s report, actually turned out to be Deneer Parker himself, the person who police originally believed was kidnapped in the first place. Parker apparently “orchestrated the whole kidnapping as some sort of prank on his cousins. Deneer Parker was arrested and charged.”
Incidents Found in Archives:
The following incidents were found in the 2 On Your Side archives. Firearms Use reports for these incidents were not included in the reports provided by police under the Freedom of Information Law.
Feb. 16, 2012: Buffalo Police said an officer shot and wounded a suspect during a foot chase near Moselle Street. The suspect, 21-year-old Joseph Craig, was armed with an assault rifle, according to police. Craig was taken to ECMC, facing charges of criminal weapon possession, drug possession and menacing.
June 24, 2012: In the early morning hours, officers opened fire on 17-year-old named Wilson Morales, resulting in paralysis. After police had pulled him over, Morales’ car “was suddenly slapped in reverse and one of the two officers who was in the car pursuing this individual almost got crushed against the side of his police car,” according to PBA attorney Tom Burton. Morales’ family said he did not lead police on a chase. Morales, who was a student at Maritime Charter School in Buffalo at the time, was charged with assault on a police officer and unlawful fleeing of a police officer.