Gladstone Street, where an officer-involved shooting occured on December 12, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Flynn Praises Police for Attempting to De-escalate December Shooting Incident

"If you can avoid shooting someone, that's what we train our cops to do."

March 14, 2019 - 6:24 pm
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BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - On Thursday, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced that there would be no charges filed against Buffalo Police Officer Joseph Meli in regard to the shooting death of Marcus Neil back in December.

Flynn was very clear that the investigation indicated that Meli acted in self-defense, and the district attorney even praised the involved officers for truly using shooting as their last resort.

"Everyone always makes the statement, "Why didn't you try to use non-lethal measures first, before you shot?'" said Flynn. "They did that, here; they used mace. The fact that the officers tried to use non-lethal measures, that, to me, speaks volumes of their professionalism and conduct."

Tom Burton serves as the attorney for the Buffalo Police Department, and he said that the correct conclusion was discovered by the investigation.

"The District Attorney's Office looked under every rock that it could, and it demonstrated what we knew from the beginning - that this cop completely ran out of options before he had to use deadly force to end the threat to himself and the other cops," said Burton.

Hear full audio from Burton below:

He also addressed the use of de-escalation tactics.

"We call that a force continuum in the police academy," he said. "They started by shouting and yelling; they ordered the gentleman to drop the knife, which he did not; they hit him with [mace] that had no effect whatsoever, and this officer was three feet from the edge of the roof with somebody lunging at him with a knife, and that point, he just simply had not other option."

Burton says that police officers are trained to deescalate a situation if possible.

"The basic notion is that if you can avoid shooting someone, that's what we train our cops to do," said Burton.

However, Burton admitted that in some cases, deadly force is simply necessary.

"In a perfect world, you would like to deescalate everything if you can," said Burton. "Many times, those circumstances don't allow those things to occur, and a classic example would be confronting an armed robber or somebody who's pointing a gun at you. Unfortunately, de-escalation doesn't always work in an emergency situation."

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