EDENWALD, the Bronx — Body camera footage released Thursday documents the lengthy encounter between a knife-wielding man and police until officers fatally shot the Bronx man.
It is the first fatal police-involved shooting captured on body cameras since NYPD officers began wearing them this year.
Miguel Richards, 31, was shot at 16 times by police on Sept. 6 after he aimed a toy gun at officers in his Edenwald apartment. Police were called to the home after Richards' landlord reported he hadn't seen him for a few days.
"I don't want to shoot you," an officer says. "Put your hand up and drop that knife."
The footage, which was caught on four separate body cameras, shows officers ask Richards to drop the knife 44 times.
Richards can be seen in the video wearing dark glasses and standing behind a bed covered in striped sheets. One of his hands isn't visible for the bulk of the 90-minute encounter.
Police ask him what's in the hand behind his back. He doesn't answer. Richards didn't speak at all during the encounter leading up to his death.
A man from the building called one of Richards friends and put him on speaker. The friend shouts at Richards to drop the knife.
He doesn't respond to his friend's request.
"I'm begging you," the man from the building says. "Do this for your mother."
Eventually, a backup team of officers arrived with a stun gun after the police on scene called for help at the top-floor apartment. They were told to come upstairs.
One of the officers noticed what appeared to be a gun in Richard's right hand.
"He's got a knife and a gun," an officer says.
Police asked him to drop the gun six times. They can be heard asking if it's real.
"I don't want to shoot you if you've got a fake gun in your hand," an officer says. "I'm not telling you again, drop that gun and drop that knife. Drop that gun and drop that knife."
The officer with the stun gun arrived and stepped forward. Richards raised the gun, which officers later learned was fake, and officers fired 16 shots at him. He fell to the floor and did not survive.
The officers' methods have been criticized by the Legal Aid Society.
"These officers demonstrate zero knowledge in identifying and handling a situation involving an individual who may be struggling with mental illness," they said in a statement.
The decision to release the video came after NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill consulted with Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who objected to its release while her office investigates the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
"Releasing videos to the public during the early stages of an investigation may resolve some questions about the incident but it may compromise the integrity of the investigation," Clark said in a statement. "It is important for everyone to understand that video footage is just one of many tools that are utilized by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to investigate this shooting."
As reported by the Associated Press, O'Neill told officers in a note that "we are doing this because the NYPD is committed to being as transparent as possible with respect to the release of body-worn camera video in these critical incidents.
"In the vast majority of these cases, we believe that body-worn camera video will confirm the tremendous restraint exhibited by our officers," O'Neill said.
But Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch is not happy at all with the video’s release.
“The release of this footage sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes police officers' due process rights and confidentiality protections under state law," he said.
Editor's note: This is a compilation of uncensored body camera footage released by police. It contains disturbing footage. Viewer discretion is advised.