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NYPD officers allegedly shoot man 11 times following Knife threat in mental health crisis incident

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In a dramatic turn of events on Roosevelt Island, NYPD officers shot a 21-year-old man at least 11 times after he approached them with a knife.

The incident, which lasted mere seconds, was captured on body-worn cameras and occurred in response to a 911 call reporting the man’s threats against his family in their apartment building, highlighting the challenges of handling mental health crises involving weapons.

The body-worn camera footage, recently released by the state Attorney General’s office, provides crucial perspectives from four NYPD officers at the scene on the night of August 4.

Three officers entered the building’s elevator, one equipped with a riot shield, while another stayed in the lobby with a Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department officer.

As the elevator doors were about to close, the unidentified man suddenly lunged at the Roosevelt Island officer with a knife, as shown in the footage. His face remains blurred in the videos.

Subsequently, the man turned towards the three police officers inside the elevator – identified as Daniel Mehr, Annie Virella-Abreu, and Daniel Mazza.

Virella-Abreu attempted to subdue the man with a taser, but within a second, Mehr unleashed a rapid succession of gunshots, with Mazza also firing at least once.

Virella-Abreu drew her gun, but it is unclear whether she discharged it.

Remarkably, just eight seconds elapsed from the initial knife lunge to the man lying motionless on the ground, still clutching the knife.

Mehr approached with his gun raised and demanded, “Drop the knife!” Virella-Abreu intervened, urging restraint.

Tragically, the man was declared dead at a nearby hospital at 12:28 a.m., according to the police.

Authorities revealed that a family member had called 911, reporting that the man was “off his medication and under the influence of marijuana,” emphasizing the challenging circumstances that officers face when responding to mental health crises.

The NYPD has previously claimed to provide training on managing individuals in crisis, including those experiencing mental health issues.

Recruits at the NYPD Academy are educated on mental illness and proper communication. However, this incident raises questions about the adequacy of such training.

The Attorney General’s office, responsible for assessing all police-involved killings, is actively investigating the incident.

The officers involved, Mehr, Virella-Abreu, and Mazza, had joined the department between 2018 and 2020.

Police records indicate that Mehr and Virella-Abreu had received crisis response training, but questions linger about the effectiveness of this training, particularly in high-pressure situations involving individuals in mental distress.

This incident adds to a concerning pattern of police shootings involving individuals in crisis, including those with weapons.

Advocacy groups and law enforcement officials alike acknowledge the need for improved training, emphasizing de-escalation tactics, when responding to mental health emergencies.

As the city grapples with finding effective solutions, the debate continues over how best to handle such situations and prevent tragic outcomes.

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