Sept. 7 (UPI) — The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation into the fatal early Wednesday shooting of two teenage burglary suspects by an Onondaga County deputy in the town of DeWitt.
Sheriff Toby Shelley of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office told reporters during a press conference that the situation began Tuesday night when two vehicles were stolen in Syracuse that were then reported to be involved in the burglary of an Oneida smoke shop at 4 a.m.
Shelley said the vehicles then were spotted at a second smoke shop, this time in Salina, where a burglary alarm was trigged and where surveillance video was captured showing three occupants in each of the vehicles.
Then, at about 6:15 a.m., a call of a suspicious vehicle in DeWitt was reported, and an officer at the second burglary incident responded.
When that unnamed deputy arrived on the scene, one of the vehicles fled while the other attempted to run him over. The deputy then fired three shots at the vehicle as it drove away.
“He had no where to flee to,” Shelley said, explaining the danger the deputy was in. “This whole thing happens in seconds. He had no options.”
The car was going fast enough to kill a man, he said.
The vehicle was later found on Mooney Avenue in Syracuse with two people inside. One who was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other suspect was transported to a local hospital where they were also pronounced dead.
The third occupant of the vehicle and the occupants of the other vehicle have not been located, Shelley said, adding that the deceased suspects were teenagers.
The deputy involved has been put on paid 72 hours administrative leave, as per department policies, he said.
There is no body camera footage, he said, adding that there is footage captured by a camera from down the road he described as “very clear.”
Asked why there was no body camera footage, Shelley responded that if you see the footage they do have “you’ll realize that things happen very quickly and hectically.
“He knew that there were six suspects,” he said. “He most likely didn’t have time to put the body camera on. You have to put yourself in his shoes and watch that video before you question whether or not he had his body camera on.”
Later Wednesday, the New York Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation said in a statement that it has opened an investigation into the shooting as dictated by state law that says it must probe every incident where a police officer or a peace officer may have caused the death of a person by an act of omission.