First fatal police shooting captured on NYPD body camera results in lawsuit

By Stephen Rex Brown New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The first fatal police shooting captured on NYPD body cameras and released to the public in an effort to show cops' "discretion and restraint" has resulted in a lawsuit.

The estate of Miguel Antonio Richards charges that Officers Mark Fleming and Redmond Murphy used excessive force when they fired 16 times, striking him seven times on Sept. 6, 2017. Richards was carrying a toy gun and a knife.

The deadly encounter was captured on the body cameras of four officers at the scene. Police Commissioner James O’Neill released a 16-minute compilation of the footage, telling the rank and file that transparency would help foster trust with the community.

“The level of discretion and restraint exercised by members of the NYPD is nothing short of exceptional. Releasing footage from critical incidents like this will help firmly establish your restraint in the use of force, and will plainly exhibit to the public your reasonable and judicious use of force when that force becomes necessary,” O’Neill said.

Attorney Daniel McGuinness, who is representing the estate, has a different perception.

“If you watch this video you see a steady escalation and intensity. There’s shouting, profanity and instigation,” he said.

“If this situation had been approached with de-escalation and mental health professionals this could have been calmed down and not ratcheted up to where someone died.”

The suit was brought by the administrator of Richards’ estate, Sarekhi Stephens, who is a family friend.

It was only 13 minutes into the tense encounter that a cop said he believed that Richards was holding a gun, according to the lawsuit.

“It was apparent, or should have been apparent, to Fleming and Murphy that Mr. Richards was experiencing a mental health crisis and/or was emotionally disturbed,” their suit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court reads.

Richards’ father, Belvett Richards, also said the shooting was unnecessary.

"He was murdered … cold blooded,” he told the Daily News last year.

The suit cites other high-profile NYPD shootings as evidence that the NYPD fails to train cops how “to de-escalate confrontations with emotionally disturbed persons.”

The police killings of Dwayne Jeune, Deborah Danner and Mohamed Bah were all “unnecessary civilian deaths,” the suit says.

“(The video) shows a very tragic lack of the NYPD’s training and adoption of policies for mentally ill people to be contained and for situations to be deescalated. That’s really the crux of our suit,” attorney McGuinness said.

The city Law Department did not immediately return a request for comment. An NYPD spokesman declined comment.


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