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Video: Police release footage of Cheektowaga fatal shooting

A man carrying a gun walks in front of a police car and pulls off his hood.

He moves past the car, beyond the view of the dash-cam, which continues to record the sounds of a commotion.

Then come two loud pops.

Those were among the final moments of Darrell P. Bosell’s life, which were revealed in dash-cam video and hotel surveillance footage Cheektowaga police released Wednesday. It was the first time these images were made public.

A Cheektowaga officer shot Bosell, 34, at about 11 p.m. March 5 in the parking lot outside the Best Western Hotel on Genesee Street, across from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Cheektowaga Police Chief David J. Zack called his agency’s investigation “nearly complete” and said he expects the case to be turned over to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office by the end of the week.

“We have concluded that the officer involved acted properly and in accordance with training. The use of deadly force in this incident was justified,” Zack said during a morning news conference, reiterating the department’s previous statements that they were confident the shooting was justified.

Bosell, of the Town of Java in Wyoming County, was shot twice in the chest by the officer, who has not been identified. Bosell later died at the hospital after what some of his friends suspect could have been a case of “suicide by cop.”

The footage police released Wednesday captured Bosell’s time at the hotel and the moments before he approached the officer with a gun. The footage showed:

• Bosell and another person, whom police declined to identify, checked into the hotel just before 10 p.m.

• Photos of Bosell’s room taken after the shooting show two large knives on a table, along with a bottle of whiskey. There was also a chair near the window overlooking where police vehicles would have been gathered that night.

• About 20 minutes before he leaves the hotel, Bosell is seen in the hallway brandishing the .45-caliber handgun.

• At 10:58 p.m., Bosell leaves his room, walks down the hallway and passes a person standing at the door of another room. He then heads down some stairs. The hotel surveillance video shows Bosell holding the gun.

• The in-car camera then captures Bosell walking out of the hotel towards police vehicles in the parking lot. The black-and-white dash-cam footage shows a hooded figure approaching a police car from the side, walking between police vehicles. As he passes the front of the car, the officer shines a spotlight on him. Bosell pulls down his hood and moves out of the frame.

“He’s right here with a gun,” the officer is heard saying.

That was when Bosell raised his gun and pointed it at the officer’s head, Zack said. Someone yells and it sounds like commotion.

Bosell tried to open the door of the police car and twice ordered the officer to get out of the vehicle, according to police. The officer drew his gun while still seated in the car. He then opened the car door and got out.

“Radio, he’s got a gun out on me outside,” the officer says.

A few seconds later, the officer says “on me” again.

Then the sound of the two gunshots.

Bosell and the officer were about two feet from each other when the shots were fired, police said.

Police had previously said they believed that the officer was justified in his shooting of Bosell.

Police on Wednesday again expressed their condolences to Bosell’s family.

His department is “committed to transparency” and thought it was the appropriate time to release the footage to the public, Zack said.

“I would say that was amazing composure by the officer involved,” Zack said after showing the video. “He’s sitting there with a gun that he believes to be loaded pointed at his head and he’s still communicating with responding officers and dispatch that he’s got a gun trained on him. And fortunately he was able to exit the vehicle and did what was necessary afterward.”

Here's the footage with Zack's commentary:

The officer involved has been described as a 16-year veteran of the town’s police department. He was also specially trained in crisis management. This officer spoke twice on the phone with Bosell in the period before police located him at the hotel.

Police have declined to share many details about what happened, including about Bosell’s mental health. “We are aware of a mental health history. We’re not going to go into that in any depth at this time,” Zack said.

Here's the full news conference, archived on Periscope:

Bosell had been drinking all day, police have previously said. Friends told The Buffalo News that when Bosell drank, he changed from a kindhearted person to someone potentially dangerous to himself and others.

Police used Bosell’s cellphone signal to track his location after State Police notified them he was suspected in the theft of a gun from a relative. They believe Bosell also stole a loaded magazine for the gun and a box of ammunition. They have declined to say if or where those were recovered.

Zack said he believes this shooting underscores the need for mandatory training for all police in crisis intervention, saying it should be added to basic police academy curriculum for all officers. The chief also likened the scope of mental health issues in society to the level of the current opioid epidemic.

“It’s truly a challenge,” he said.

The officer – whose identity will be revealed when the district attorney’s office concludes its review of the case, Zack said – remains on paid administrative leave.

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