Varying Views on Video of Officer-Involved Shooting

There's a "sharp difference of opinion" on whether video shows victim had firearm

September 18, 2018 - 5:58 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - There are varying opinions of what the video of last week's officer-involved shooting actually shows.

Attorney Steve Cohen is representing the family of 32-year-old Pito Rivera, who was fatally shot by police on Plymouth Avenue. 

Cohen released a statement saying the footage was very disturbing.

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

However, that is not the position the Buffalo Police Department takes.

Legal analyst Paul Cambria explains.

"Apparently there's a sharp difference of opinion on behalf of the lawyers representing the police officers, who claim that the video clearly shows a weapon in the possession of the deceased," said Cambria. "So, obviously that's something that District Attorney [John] Flynn and his investigators will have to parse out and make a decision."

Cohen says he will not release the video for public viewing, something Cambria says is understandable.

"He says that the reason is because it shows an actual homicide, and I mean, that's hard to argue with," said Cambria. "That isn't a very pleasant thing that the family would like to have broadcast everywhere."

We reached out to Council Member Ulysses Wingo who says he's definitely a proponent of of getting information out to the community, but if releasing the video hurts the investigation, then he obviously wouldn't want it released.

"Body cameras are one thing, that if it exonerates an officer, then it's typically community released," said Wingo. "But if there are things that are questionable, that have to be investigated and other things that could potentially harm or hurt the investigation, then of course you need to take all precautions and exercise some type of prudence to make sure what you're doing is best, and that you're acting in a responsible manner."

Cambria says the video will need to be enhanced to figure out the dispute, and then the district attorney will decide whether police force was justifiable.


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