Update: Religious leaders called for the Rochester Police Department to put a stop to its use of tasers, at a press conference Wednesday, June 3, until the department reviews its policies regarding taser usage by police.
Rochester Police Department Chief Michael Ciminelli has released the name of the officer who fired his taser at a man who died Monday, following an attempt to arrest the man on Tremont St.
Officer Thomas Frye tased 50-year-old Richard Gregory Davis, after Davis allegedly charged at officers, following their attempt to subdue him, Ciminelli said at a press conference.
Frye has been placed on administrative duty, pending an investigation into the matter.
Ciminelli also said the police department has obtained at least one video of the event, taken on a witness’ mobile phone, and is presently deciding how, and when, to release the footage.
“We have obtained at least one cell phone video from a cooperative witness, which does show a small portion of the incident,” Ciminelli stated. “We have also located a home security camera video, which does have some view of the vehicle on it. We’re still trying to analyze now, at what point in time, the vehicle is portrayed in that.”
Ciminelli said six officers, total, had been involved in the incident, and that Frye, an eight-year veteran of the RPD, has been taser-certified, which requires eight hours of training, as well as periodic re-certification by the department.
In addition, following the RPD’s press conference, several area religious leaders also spoke with the media, and local pastors asked for transparency from police while investigating recent police-involved deaths, as well as the creation of a civilian-based review board, consisting of city residents.
Faith Community Alliance leader Clifford Florence called for calm from the community, while officers continue to investigate the matter.
“Any time a life is lost, it affects all of us,” Florence stated. “The life in Greece, and the life in Rochester, is precious, and we don’t want to put any importance on one over the other. In God’s eyes, all life is precious.”
Greece police have also been investigating another officer-involved death, which happened between a black officer and a white male in Greece.
Clergy members said they plan to hold another press conference Wednesday, after meeting with Ciminelli.
However, although Davis’ family said the taser is what caused Davis’ death, and that Davis had been overweight at 300 pounds; during the RPD press conference, master taser instructor and officer Dan Carlson said the fact that Davis had been overweight would likely not have caused his death.
“Overweight by itself wouldn’t cause any particular extra concerns,” Carlson stated.
According to Ciminelli, the department plans to speak to the family directly regarding the investigation.
“My message to them is, as I said, that, they have our prayers, and our sympathy, and our thoughts that this occurred,” Ciminelli stated. “And, I can assure them that we will do a full, fair, and thorough investigation, to determine the facts, and, we will hold ourselves accountable for what we did.”
Currently the RPD has 191 officers trained to use tasers, Carlson said, and they plan to train about 16 more in the next few months. According to Ciminelli, the RPD plans to release information regarding the department’s policy on taser usage in the next few days.