NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department released bodycam footage Thursday of officers shooting a man to death in his bedroom after he ignored orders to drop a knife and a fake gun, the first such fatal police encounter captured on the devices since officers began wearing them this year.
The videos, shot by cameras worn by four different officers, don't include a clear picture of the moment that officer opened fire on Miguel Richards, a 31-year-old college student studying information technology.
But the recordings show how officers, called to Richards' Bronx home after his landlord reported he hadn't seen him for a few days, pleaded with him for several minutes to drop his weapons and show his hands.
The video shows an officer shining a flashlight on Richards as Richards, wearing dark glasses and holding a knife, stands motionless behind his bed. He never speaks.
"Put your hand up, dude, and drop the knife," one officer says. "I don't want to shoot you. Put your hand up and drop that knife."
About 15 minutes in, the officers notice that Richards has a gun behind his back.
"Drop that gun, dude. Drop that gun," one officer says. "I don't want to shoot you if you've got a fake gun in your hand. You hear me? But I will shoot you if that's a real gun."
A third officer appears with a stun gun while Richards stands behind his bed.
What happens next is partly obscured by the officer's arms and walls. There is a loud bang, followed by a fusillade of shots.
Police said Richards pointed a toy gun with a laser pointer at the officers, who fired both the stun gun and their weapons. A red dot from a laser pointer can be seen in some frames, but it isn't clear whether that comes from the toy or the sight on the stun gun.
Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said officers asked Richards a total of 50 times to drop the weapons. Richards' friend, who was called to the scene by the landlord, asked Richards 72 times to put his hands up, Gomez said.
"That's a lot of warnings by both uniformed officers and a friend at the scene," Gomez said.
Richards' father has said he believed officers killed his son in cold blood.
"He did not deserve to die this way," he told the Daily News of New York.
The footage of the shooting was released publicly over the objection of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who said she supported the need for transparency but still had an obligation to her investigation into whether the officers involved should face criminal charges.
Gomez said they were releasing the images for transparency reasons. In a note to officers, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said, "We are doing this because the NYPD is committed to being as transparent as possible with respect to the release of body-worn camera video in these critical incidents."
He said, "In the vast majority of these cases, we believe that body-worn camera video will confirm the tremendous restraint exhibited by our officers."