WBEN Photo - BPD works into the night investigating

Two Different Views Of BPD Police Shooting

HEAR Police and Victim's Family Attorney On What They Think Happened

May 10, 2017 - 5:42 am

As they begin to investigate the Buffalo Police's shooting of Jose Hernandez-Rossy on Sunday, the NYS Attorney General will have to wade through two vastly different views of what happened.

Buffalo Police Benevolent Association Attorney Tom Burton says Hernandez-Rossy has fled from police before, had narcotics in his vehicle, and opened fire Sunday on Gartman Street, sending a bullet into Officer Joseph Acquino's head, tearing off his ear. 

Representing Hernandez-Rossy's family, Attorney Nelson Torre says witnesses have told him they saw the two officers try to force Hernandez-Rossy to the ground, pistol whip him, and then shoot Hernandez-Rossy in the back while he was running away unarmed.  He also suggested police may have rammed Hernandez-Rossy off the road.

Both of them appeared on WBEN Tuesday 



There are no confirmed reports the weapon used to take Acquino's ear off has been found.  That is likely the primary reason the New York State Attorney General's office is involved. 

The Attorney General's office has special orders from the Governor to involve itself in cases where an unarmed person is shot by the police. The Attorney General’s Special Investigation and Prosecution Unit will lead the investigation.

The Buffalo Police released a statement about the investigation last night:

“Buffalo Police have been and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office. As the investigation continues, anyone with information is asked to contact authorities."

 Torre, who is representing the family of Hernandez-Rossy, says for him the lack of  a gun is not the only thing that needs to be looked at. Torre suggested it might not have been a typical traffic stop.

"Looking at the damage on the driver's side of the car, and where it came to rest, it was readily apparent that this was not a standard car stop," Torre said, "it looked like the car was forced off the road at the intersection."

Police Benevolent Association attorney Burton told WBEN's Bauerle and Bellavia that Torre simply doesn't have all of the facts.  Burton said damage to the vehicles was caused by Hernandez-Rossy trying to drive away - something he has reportedly done during traffic stops in the past.  Burton also confirmed rumors that some type of narcotic was found in the suspect's SUV.

Burton said Officer Justin Tedesco, the one who shot and killed Hernandez-Rossy, had reasonable cause to shoot 

"I can tell you at this juncture [Officer Tedesco] was in close proximity, close enough to hear Acquino screaming 'he got me, I've been shot, help me', words to that effect," Burton explained, "and he certainly knew his partner didn't start out the encounter with his ear hanging off the side of his head, with a gaping wound on the side of his skull."

"The key to this case, legally, is what did the cop who had not been injured with his ear hanging off, what did he perceive at the moment he fired," Burton said, "that's the essence of this case."

Regardless of how Officer Acquino's ear came off, either via struggle for the officer's gun, being ripped off by hand or bitten off, Tedesco was obligated to stop Hernandez-Rossy once he ran.

"A cop has to go forward under his oath," said Burton, referring to an officer's obligation to uphold the law and pursue a suspect, "and that's why under New York's justification statute, there is never a circumstance where a cop must retreat."


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