Yesterday saw the death of Jarrell Garris, a 37-year-old man on supervised release, labeled a homicide. The decision came several days after the man was shot by the police under confusing circumstances in New Rochelle, NY.
It was The New York Times that reported the contentious detail: while the police maintain that Garris attempted to disarm the officer during the incident on July 3, his family contends that he was shot merely for consuming a few unpaid-for fruits — grapes and a banana.
After enduring a week in the hospital, Garris met his end on July 10. His family has disclosed that he was a sufferer of schizophrenia. The release of a body camera recording of the lethal episode took place on Wednesday.
Yesterday’s ruling from the medical examiner’s office that the death was a homicide sparked protests in New Rochelle by Garris’ friends and family, as Fox News reported.
In light of these developments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has investigated the shooting. As of now, the three police officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave, according to News 12.
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However, the Affiliated Police Officers Association (APA) of Westchester’s president, Detective Keith Olson, expressed a different viewpoint yesterday. He declared that the actions of Detective Steven Conn, the officer who discharged the fatal bullet, were justified. Further, he emphasized that the officers might have been in mortal danger without Conn’s intervention.
Detective Olson elaborated, claiming that Garris attempted to wrest a gun from an officer’s holster, an act that he deemed as potentially deadly. He added, “The police officers didn’t want to do what they had to do.”
Addressing the subject of Garris’ past, Olson acknowledged that he had an “extensive” criminal record. While details have not been disclosed, he argued its relevance to the case. He asserted that at the time of the shooting, Garris was under parole supervision and had been moved to North Carolina. Therefore, his presence in New York was illicit.
Nevertheless, the release of Garris’ criminal history has elicited outrage from many quarters, including William Wagstaff, an attorney for the deceased’s family. Wagstaff rebuked the APA’s insinuation that a person’s past justifies their extra-judicial execution, saying, “The association (…) suggests that someone’s past makes their extrajudicial killing acceptable; and it doesn’t.”