A white police officer shot and killed two young black men who tried to flee after being approached in DeWitt, a district in the city of Syracuse, in the state of New York, last week. This Wednesday (13), a video recorded by the camera of a residence close to the location of the approach was released by the state Attorney General’s Office.
In the images, captured from a distance, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputy John Rosello’s patrol car arrives at high speed and stops against one of the two approached vehicles that were parked in a residential area of the district at 6:30 am.
As people get into the second car and leave the scene, Rosello gets out of the car and points the gun at the white vehicle in which Dhal Apet, 17, and Lueth Mo, 15, were traveling. The teenagers’ car then reverses and then accelerates. and passes on the left side of the vehicle.
At that moment, the agent shot a few times at the vehicle, which was found less than 2 km away with Apet and Mo dead — there are reports that a third, unidentified person had fled.
The deputy sheriff was investigating robberies in the city and responded to a report of people transferring items from one car to another in that area. When responding to the incident, he did not activate the body camera attached to his uniform.
At a press conference this Wednesday (13), the county sheriff, Tobias Shelley, stated that the police officer “had nowhere to run” and that the driver of the car that was shot tried to run him over. According to the video released, however, the agent avoids the vehicle without difficulty and is not pressed between the teenagers’ car and his patrol car.
“These two teenagers should still be alive,” said Deka Dancil, assistant director of the New York branch of the ACLU, one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights organizations. “The footage makes clear that the officer unnecessarily shot to kill, and did so with a suddenness that is readily used against young black men in New York.”
Sheriff Shelley, in turn, reiterated his support for Rosello and added that his department will continue to cooperate with the office of Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating the case.
The deaths of Dhal Apet, 17, and Lueth Mo, 15, add to the statistics of police lethality in cases that are denounced as resulting from excessive use of force and with racial bias.
In early September, a pregnant black woman died in a similar police stop in Columbus, the capital of the state of Ohio. Ta’Kiya Young, 21, had been accused of stealing drinks from a market and, when approached by officers in the store’s parking lot, she refused to get out of the vehicle and sped off. At that moment, one of the police officers shoots the driver — she was taken to the hospital, but died, as did the baby whose birth was scheduled for November.