NYPD commissioner defends releasing footage of deadly shooting

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NEW YORK -

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill is defending the decision to publicly release the body camera footage from a deadly police-involved shooting in the Bronx.

The decision received from pushback from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which said the move violates officers' rights. O'Neill said he knows what it's like being an officer, but felt that it was important to show the video to the public.

Four different officers from the 47th Precinct recorded the incident, which authorities released stitched together in a 16-minute video. It shows officers responding to a wellness check in the Edenwald section of the Bronx. The officers can be heard numerous times telling 31-year-old Miguel Richards to drop his weapons, a knife and what turned out to be a fake gun.

When Richards raised the imitation gun in the direction of the officers, police say that's when one officer fired a stun gun and the other two fired their service weapons, killing Richards.

This is the first time the NYPD has released body camera footage of a deadly police-involved shooting.

"I think it is to build a trust within this great city, to increase our transparency, but also to let people know what our police officers face each and every day," O'Neill said of releasing the footage.

The officers involved have been identified as Mark Flemming and Redmond Murphy, who both fired their service weapons, and officers Jesus Ramos and Marco Oliveras, who showed up later.

Go here to watch the bodycam video. (WARNING: Graphic content)

The New York Civil Liberties Union said of the footage: "This video shows precisely why the public deserves to see the circumstances around police shootings. It shows New Yorkers the deadly consequences when unprepared police encounter people in crisis. It is apparent from the footage that these NYPD officers are not equipped to handle people experiencing a mental health crisis. The police department was right to release the video but must now use this opportunity to address its longstanding shortcomings in dealing with people in crisis."

Elin Waring, a sociology professor at Lehman College who has done research on law enforcement, said that while body cameras could be useful, it is still a fairly new technology.

"When you are a researcher you kind of hope that when you are observing a situation that you being there isn't changing the situation," Waring said. "We don't really know whether having body cameras is changing officer behavior or if it is changing public or suspect behavior like that's an open question."

Waring agrees with Commissioner O'Neill that the cameras could help with transparency.

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