Buf­falo of­fi­cer won’t be charged in fa­tal shoot­ing

Po­lice ‘100 per­cent jus­ti­fied’ in ac­tions against shoplift­ing sus­pect, DA says

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Aaron Besecker and Phil Fair­banks NEWS STAFF RE­PORTERS

Pros­e­cu­tors say Buf­falo Po­lice Of­fi­cer Joseph Meli acted out of self-de­fense when he shot and killed a shoplift­ing sus­pect last year.

They also be­lieve Mar­cus Neal, the man who died, was armed with a knife and at one point lunged at Meli dur­ing their rooftop con­fronta­tion in Black Rock.

“He was ei­ther go­ing to get stabbed or fall off the roof,” Erie County Dis­trict At­tor­ney John J. Flynn said Thurs­day. “At the end of the day, this was a jus­ti­fi­able shoot­ing by Of­fi­cer Meli.”

Flynn’s de­ci­sion not to press charges against the sec­ond-year of­fi­cer came just days af­ter Neal’s fam­ily filed court pa­pers in­di­cat­ing they plan to sue the city and seek mon­e­tary dam­ages.

In their no­tice of claim, Neal’s fa­ther and son ques­tioned po­lice ac­counts of what hap­pened that night in De­cem­ber, in­clud­ing the pres­ence of a knife.

“We have an­other black man killed by po­lice un­der what ap­pear to be sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances,” Don­ald M. Thomp­son, one of the lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily, said Thurs­day.

Thomp­son said the fam­ily will look at the ev­i­dence gath­ered by Flynn’s of­fice be­fore fil­ing a for­mal law­suit against the city.

With Thomp­son sit­ting in the same room, Flynn out­lined for re­porters what led to his con­clu­sion that the shoot­ing on Glad­stone Street was rea­son­able and nec­es­sary.

First and fore­most, he pointed to Neal’s ac­tions on the roof, in­clud­ing that mo­ment when he al­legedly reached into his back­pack and pulled out a 3½-inch fold­ing knife.

Flynn said Neal be­gan cut­ting his own arm with the knife and told of­fi­cers they were go­ing to have to shoot him.

At that point, of­fi­cers pep­per-sprayed Neal, who re­sponded by wip­ing his face with snow.

“Now, he starts walk­ing to­ward the of­fi­cers, knife in hand,” Flynn said.

At that point, Neal lunged at Meli and the of­fi­cer re­sponded by shoot­ing Neal twice in the right side and once in the but­tocks, Flynn said. He noted that Neal con­tin­ued to fight of­fi­cers, even af­ter be­ing shot three times.

When asked if Neal was seek­ing what po­lice call “sui­cide by cop,” Flynn said he didn’t know but sug­gested it was pos­si­ble.

Ei­ther way, he said, the shoot­ing was nec­es­sary.

Shoot­ing on Page A7

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.