Fatal Police Encounter in Buffalo

An incident at a traffic stop near Tonawanda and Garfield Streets on Sunday resulted in a man’s death and a police officer being injured. 26-year-old Jose Hernandez-Rossy was pronounced dead at Kenmore Mercy Hospital after an encounter with police, during which Officer Joseph Acquino’s ear was shot off. Officer Justin Tedesco, Acquino’s partner, fired at Hernandez-Rossy and hit him in the upper arm and shoulder. The bullet severed an artery in Hernandez-Rossy’s arm. Criminal defense attorney Paul Cambria spoke to WBEN about the case. The full interview is available on the WBEN website.

Case depends on witness testimony

WBEN asked Mr. Cambria how long a complicated case like this could take to unfold. Mr. Cambria answered that the timing largely depends on witness testimony. “It seems to me there’s one critical witness, this woman who indicates that she was on the scene at least immediately after the shooting that caused the officer to be injured. Her testimony is going to be critical,” he explained. Mr. Cambria went on to say that “the attorneys for the person who was alleged to have shot the police officer [are] going to claim that he didn’t shoot him at all—maybe that, in the struggle, the police officer’s gun went off, something like that.”

“As far as how many witnesses, it seems like there’s only the two police officers and one other woman and that’s it, so it shouldn’t take that long,” Mr. Cambria said.

Quirk in New York State Law

When asked to respond to reports that the Hernandez-Rossy was shot in the back, Mr. Cambria explained that it is possible that someone may claim there was no immediate threat of death to the officer and that, therefore, the force used against Hernandez-Rossy was not justifiable. “There is a quirk in the New York Law concerning somebody escaping after committing a violent felony,” Mr. Cambria explained, “but, for the most part, the courts have interpreted the use of deadly force as being met with deadly force.”

Mr. Cambria also spoke to WBEN about the missing gun in the case and its potential importance. “Who knows where the gun went? It could still be out there, it could have been picked up by somebody immediately. They weren’t out there with a group of people combing the area to find the gun, so it could have been picked up already.”

About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.