ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced they have concluded a thorough investigation into the death of 24-year-old Dedrick James and concluded he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound
In 2021, James died while members of the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force attempted to serve an arrest warrant in Rochester. Following the incident, an investigation was launched by the OAG into the incident, the report for which was released Friday.
The Wayne County resident had a warrant out for injuries he allegedly caused to his two-year-old son, charging him with assault in the second degree. After a month-long investigation of the alleged assaults, the warrant was issued, the report said.
At around 10:40 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2021, the Task Force — comprised of U.S. Marshals, New York State Police, Rochester Police officers, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office — arrived at 6 Vinewood Place in Rochester to serve the warrant.
James’ grandmother, the owner of the home, opened the door, and James appeared shortly after, the report said. After a short conversation, James attempted to flee into the house and ran into a bathroom, where he produced a loaded handgun.
Law enforcement officers then attempted to subdue James with a bear hug. During the struggle, the investigation found that James’ gun went off, fatally shooting into his chest.
Following his death, several members of the community requested both an investigation and the release of officer body cam footage. Some organizations called the incident a murder, while others highlighted unanswered questions.
The investigation corroborates with initial reports that none of the officers fired their weapons, and life-saving techniques used on James were unsuccessful.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said, at the time of the incident, the U.S. Department of Justice recently changed its policy to permit USMS Task Force members to wear body-worn cameras, but the policy was not fully implemented yet.
“We have consistently recommended that members of all law enforcement agencies wear and use body-worn cameras to aid in efforts to uphold the highest standards of safety, fairness, and accountability,” Attorney General James said. “I urge the USMS Task Force and its member agencies, including the Rochester Police Department and the New York State Police, to take immediate action to outfit every officer with body-worn cameras.”
Reverand Lewis Stewart with United Christian Ministry was one of those leaders calling for action last year. Stewart says police bombarded the home and escalated a situation that didn’t need to be– further, he says since there is no body cam footage, the truth of what happened there will never be known.
“In these cases, you do need body camera footage to verify independently what really happened. We don’t know what happened. And so therefore that raises questions,” said Stewart.
On the bombardment of police into the home, he added, “Well then. Why did not all those officers, instead of rushing to go through this ‘warrior mentality’ of escalating the situation– why didn’t they just sit back– they had the place surrounded, and negotiate with this young man?”