Media Contact

Arianna Fishman, afishman@nyclu.org, 212-607-3372

March 11, 2021

ROCHESTER – Yesterday, body camera footage was released showing Rochester police officers fatally shooting an individual experiencing homelessness. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:

“Time and time again, the Rochester Police Department displays complete disregard for human life. The RPD is trigger happy towards residents in crisis and has a penchant towards traumatizing mothers and children with tear gas, handcuffs, and abuse. They view their community as a war zone, not full of human beings whose lives deserve respect and de-escalation when conflict arises.

“Mayor Warren: hopes and prayers are not enough. Reforms that are nothing more than window dressing are not enough. Let’s face it: policing in Rochester is rotten to the core.

“The Police Accountability Board must have the authority and resources to independently investigate this tragedy so that City Hall and the RPD cannot conceal the truth. Rochester must divest from its police department and reinvest in communities, instead of tearing them apart with needless violence.

“Hardly a month goes by without another tragic example that demonstrates that the RPD should not be the first responders in cases involving individuals in dire emotional distress, including policing the experience of homelessness.  The city of Rochester needs to overhaul its procedures for responding to mental health emergencies before another life is lost to a failed system.”