The NYPD released more than 30 minutes of body camera footage Thursday from a fatal police-involved shooting in the Bronx earlier this month, showing a tense standoff where officers tried to get the man to drop his weapons before firing on him with a Taser and two guns nearly simultaneously.
During the deadly encounter from Sept. 6, two officers from the 47th Precinct repeatedly implored Miguel Richards, 31, to drop his knife and — what later turned out to be — a toy gun that was hidden behind his back.
Police had initially been called to the apartment at 3700 Pratt Ave. in Edenwald to check on Richards after his landlord had called police to say he hadn’t seen the man in a couple days. The officers who arrived first, Redmond Murphy and Mark Fleming, were let into the apartment by the landlord and saw Richards brandishing a knife in his left hand with his right hand behind his back. Two other officers with a Taser arrived later.
In the video released Thursday, a sunglass-wearing Richards can be seen standing in the corner of the dark bedroom, and doesn’t speak throughout the encounter.
“Let me see your hands. Put your hands up dude, and drop that knife . . . I don’t want to shoot you,” said Fleming, who has 11 years with the department, later adding: “Do you want to die? . . . I don’t want to shoot you man, but I will if you come out with that knife.”
For more than 15 minutes, officers in the video plead with Richards to show his hands and drop his weapons, questioning if his gun was real and trying to engage him by asking his name.
A friend of Richards who was called to the apartment can be heard begging him “to put your hands up dude,” growing increasingly desperate in his pleas. The friend also called another of Richards’ friends, hoping to coax him into cooperating.
Police tossed the phone toward Richards and urged him to talk to the friend, but the man continued to stand silently, refusing to drop the knife or show the fake gun in his other hand, the recording showed.
After several minutes, the officers requested “one unit with a Taser,” which arrived about seven minutes later.
“Dude, fly over here,” Fleming said. “We’ve got a guy with a knife in his hand. He won’t put it down. We need him Tased.”
Within less than a minute of arriving at the apartment with a Taser, Officer Jesus Ramos asked if Fleming and Murphy “want to take him down now?”
The video cuts one more time to Richards as he appears to lunge toward the cops as the Taser was fired. Immediately after, Richards raises the hand holding the toy gun and Fleming and Murphy fire their service weapons.
“This was a simple request, a wellness check,” Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said Thursday. “He was concerned for his safety and well-being and it quickly morphed into the officers facing an armed, emotionally disturbed person.”
This was the first time a police-involved shooting was caught on NYPD body cameras. Gomez said Richards was asked to drop his knife 44 times, and asked him to drop his gun six times.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark had met to discuss the footage and agreed any release should be done in a way that doesn’t compromise the prosecutor’s ongoing investigation, law enforcement officials said earlier this week.
The NYPD plans on rolling out body cameras to more than 20 precincts for officers who patrol during the evening, Gomez said. There are 10 commands that have the body cameras, with 670 officers equipped with the cameras.
Each officer receives eight hours of training on the operation and rules associated with the cameras, Gomez said.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the “release of this footage sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes police officers’ due process rights and confidentiality protections under state law.
“The district attorney’s investigation into the case is still ongoing — it should be allowed to proceed free of pressure and interference, looking at all of the relevant facts alongside the video footage,” he added.