Family demands enquiry after death of Black man in US police shooting

Simran Gordon, 24, was shot dead on October 6 when Rochester officers were called to respond to a robbery. — Reuters pic
Simran Gordon, 24, was shot dead on October 6 when Rochester officers were called to respond to a robbery. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Oct 14 ― The family of a Black man killed by police during a supermarket shooting in upstate New York are demanding justice after authorities released footage yesterday of the tragedy.

Police in Rochester, New York have repeatedly come under fire in the past year over episodes, particularly involving African-Americans, that raised questions about their use of force.

Simran Gordon, 24, was shot dead on October 6 when Rochester officers were called to respond to a robbery. The two videos were captured by the officers’ body cameras.

In the first video, an officer enters the grocery store, draws his weapon and asks Gordon to take his hands out of his pockets. The officer approaches and repeats the order.

Gordon is then seen fleeing through the aisles, pursued by the officer. When the officer catches up with Gordon, the image becomes jumbled as the officer is off-balance. Several shots are heard close together.

“Drop the gun!” the officer shouts at Gordon, who is on the ground and obviously hit by the bullets.

In the other video, the second officer arrives from another direction and kneels down on level with Gordon’s face. He is facedown and moaning.

With her foot, she appears to remove an object from his hand, saying: “I got it.”

New York state attorney general Letitia James said yesterday that releasing the footage “is not an expression of any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of any party.”

Rochester police had released a captioned version of the videos Tuesday, saying that Gordon had been armed and fired the first shot.

But several members of Gordon’s family told local media they don’t believe the police version. “It wasn’t an exchange of fire. It wasn’t a shootout. It was a complete and total murder,” Gordon’s uncle, Lyndon Gordon, said on several local news channels.

The family’s lawyer, Yousef Taha, told AFP that the videos’ release “leaves us with more questions than answers.”

“We call upon the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a complete and transparent investigation into his death,” Taha said. “We will continue to seek justice for Simran and his family.”

Gordon’s death is the latest incident that has brought Rochester police under scrutiny.

In March, body-cam video showed Rochester officers forcing a Black woman, holding her three-year-old daughter, to the ground and pepper-spraying her.

Protests broke out in Rochester in September 2020 after the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man.

Prude was walking naked, high on drugs, when police put a hood over his head to prevent him spitting, then held him face-down on the pavement until he stopped breathing. He died a week later.

A medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide, but a grand jury declined to indict any of the officers involved. ― AFP