Rochester Police officer Matthew Drake shot and killed a homeless man during a mental health crisis during the early morning hours of last night. The Rochester Police Department (RPD) were quick to release body camera footage which supports the position that the shooting was justified, but only because Officer Drake was not equipped with a taser.
According to local media coverage, a radio call went out for an officer equipped with a bean bag gun or a taser before Officer Drake shot the yet to be identified man in self defense outside of the Open Door Mission. We say that this was a self defense shooting because as the footage from Drake's body camera (embedded below) shows he made a good faith effort to retreat before opening fire. It also appears that the man, who was armed with a knife, increased his speed as he advanced towards Officer Drake in the seconds before he opened fire. Because Officer Drake did not have the option of trying to use less than lethal force we consider this a self defense shooting. This shooting is similar to the shooting of Ricardo Munoz last year in Pennsylvania which we considered self defense because Munoz chased an officer with a knife, the officer tried to run away, and only after Munoz caught up was he shot (https://copblaster.com/blast/25964/ricardo-munoz-shot-by-police-in-lancaster-protest-mostly-peaceful).
We believe that the outcome of this incident would have been different had the RPD equipped their officers with tasers. We are always shocked when we see footage like this, ask why officers never tried using a taser, and find out that none of the officers involved had one. That was the case in Philadelphia last year when Walter Wallace Jr. was killed by police while acting in a manner similar to the victim in this case (https://copblaster.com/blast/26023/philadelphia-police-did-not-need-to-kill-walter-wallace-jr). In that case we were quick to reach the conclusion that officers did not need to kill Wallace because he was far enough away that a taser should have worked just fine, but that was before we learned that none of the officers had tasers. His distance was about the same as the distance between the man in Rochester and Officer Drake. The blame for Wallace's death could be placed squarely on the shoulders of Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw (https://copblaster.com/blast/26024/philadelphia-police-shocker-officers-dont-carry-stun-guns) who began a program to equip officers with tasers but failed to follow through on implementing it promptly. In this case the blame for this death should be placed on Interim RPD Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, her predecessors, and anyone working above them that should have known that police officers need tasers to avoid killing people. You don't need law enforcement training let alone years of experience like Herriott-Sullivan has to know that if you fail to issue tasers that it is only a matter of time until an officer will be forced to choose between using lethal force or taking on an armed suspect unarmed.
We were able to identify Matthew D. Drake as the shooter in this case due to his initials and badge number being present in the body camera footage. In the bottom right hand corner you can see a unique identifier ending in MD1956. The RPD has two ways of formatting the unique identifiers in body camera videos released to the public. The first is with a random number in which case it is useless for identifying the officer wearing it. The second is with the officer's initials and badge number following the _ character. In Drake's case the second unique identifier was used and we were able to match the badge number and initials with publicly available information about Drake. Open Oversight hosts an extensive database of RPD officers. When we searched for badge number 1956 we found a single record for an officer named Matthew D. Drake (https://openoversight.com/officer/32809). That name was also found on the RPD Open Data Portal website where it is one of six names with the initials MD (https://data-rpdny.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/rpd-police-personnel/data?geometry=-78.869%2C43.003%2C-76.356%2C43.353&page=18). From that we are certain that the video in question was taken from the body camera of Matthew Drake.
According to public records, Matthew D. Drake is a 37 year old resident of Rochester, New York. He is a registered Republican with no criminal record. According to the RPD Open Data Portal he has been with the department since 2007.