Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler and City of Newburgh Police Chief Douglas Solomon released images from a body-worn camera that show a man brandishing a pistol as he fought with City of Newburgh Police Officers on March 27, 2020, at about 5:01 pm in the vicinity of 40 Williams Street in Newburgh. The man was wanted for questioning in connection with a shooting that occurred on March 26, 2020, in the area of Benkard and Williams Street.
A review of the body-worn camera and street cameras shows that when officers approached the man, he displayed a silver handgun and began fighting with officers, striking one of the officers in the head with a handgun. During the encounter, the man discharged the pistol and City of Newburgh Police Officers fired their weapons. One City of Newburgh Police Officer was taken to the hospital and treated for a gunshot wound, as well as injuries to his head. After the armed man was shot, City of Newburgh Police Officers attempted CPR. However, after transport to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment, the man was subsequently pronounced dead.
To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the investigation stills from a portion of one of the officer’s body-worn camera footage is being released to the media.
“Normally in an investigation of this type of incident we would not be releasing images this early in the investigation,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “However, to allay community concerns, which quite frankly have been stoked by misinformation coming from a city official, we are releasing these images showing the armed man discharging his gun.”
In 2015, the District Attorney’s Office and all Orange County police chiefs adopted a protocol to be used when police officers use deadly physical force that results in death or serious physical injury to a suspect or bystander. The protocol designates the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as the “lead agency” in an officer-involved fatality investigation and provides that the New York State Police will be contacted and will be asked to assist the District Attorney in the investigation. The New York State Police are to process the scene of the incident to preserve all forensic evidence and will perform forensic analysis. The protocol is designed to enhance public confidence in the outcome of officer-involved fatality investigations, by removing the “involved police agency” from the investigation.
At the request of and with the consent of the City of Newburgh Police Department, the protocol was activated in this investigation. New York State Police officers responded to the scene of the shooting and have recovered evidence and interviewed witnesses. The City of Newburgh Police Department is fully cooperating in the investigation and, pursuant to the protocol, safeguarded the scene until the State Police arrived.
Pursuant to an Executive Order signed by Governor Cuomo, which was later codified, certain police-involved shootings are investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. After being briefed on the incident, District Attorney Hoovler spoke to an Assistant Attorney General, who agreed that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office should continue its investigation. District Attorney Hoovler stated that he would keep the Attorney General’s Office updated as the investigation progresses. The Executive Order does not apply to instances where the deceased was armed.
District Attorney Hoovler stated that the District Attorney’s Office will conduct two parallel investigations in this matter. One will consist of an investigation before an Orange County grand jury. The second will be an investigation conducted within the District Attorney’s Office. Although secrecy rules governing grand jury proceedings prevent some findings of the grand jury from being revealed, particularly in instances where no charges are authorized, no such rules govern the District Attorney’s Office’s investigation. The District Attorney will make public a report of his office’s findings at the conclusion of the investigation. In light of the time it takes to obtain results from scientific tests such as toxicology reports, District Attorney Hoovler anticipates that the investigations will take three to five months to complete.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department and the New York State Police for their cooperation in the investigation.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.