'Pito" Rivera's Family Files Lawsuit Against Buffalo Police

"If he was caucasian, he would not have been shot dead."

Brendan Keany
September 13, 2019 - 2:17 pm

Brendan Keany


BUFFALO (WBEN) - Exactly one year following the shooting death of Pito Rivera, the family has filed a lawsuit against Buffalo Police and the two individual officers involved in Rivera's death.

Pito Rivera was shot by police on September 12, 2018, and no charges were filed by the district attorney's office in December.

The shooting was considered a justified one by district attorney John Flynn because Rivera had a weapon and made a turning motion towards the officer near the PUSH Buffalo offices on Plymouth Avenue.

"From my end, this matter is closed," Flynn told reporters back in December.

Flynn said he did not want to present the case to a grand jury because there was clear evidence that the officer did nothing wrong.

"If I don't have a good-faith basis to believe that a crime has occurred here, quite frankly I think it's unethical for me to go forward and put it on a path towards prosecution," Flynn added.

However, the family's attorney, Steve Cohen, has a differing view.

Cohen released a statement saying the footage of the incident was very disturbing.

"At no point did I see Mr. Rivera point a firearm at anyone," said Cohen back in September.

Fast forward a year, and this incident appears far from over, as Cohen noted that the lack of information he received about the incident was rather shady.

"They wouldn't identify if it was a gun or if it was a knife," said Cohen on Friday, regarding the weapon Rivera was allegedly holding. "When they said, 'Yes, it was a gun,' they wouldn't identify the caliber, the make, the model, the serial number - nothing. They wouldn't tell me a thing about it."

Cohen also said that he believes Rivera's race had something to do with the outcome.

"I can tell you that if a Caucasian man was running away from the police, had tripped, fallen, looked back at the police and ran away from the police again, seeing an additional officer and ran away, if he was Caucasian, he would not have been shot dead," he said. "I can tell you that there is a sense among police officers that it is more okay to shoot someone of color dead than to shoot someone who's Caucasian."

The city and the individual officers will have 20 days to respond, and then the discovery process will begin, and within 90 days, Cohen hopes to have the officers testifying under oath.

Listen to Cohen's full comments below:

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