The Buffalo Police Department removed more than 800 illegal firearms from city streets in 2015, according to Commissioner Daniel Derenda. The gun that was used to shoot Timothy Goodwin on Aug. 30 was not one of them – that weapon was never found.
But Goodwin’s killer was, and before Rashawn Austin, 18, of Buffalo, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Wednesday for manslaughter, even his defense attorney made note of what the police and residents are up against in some neighborhoods.
“Somebody has flooded this community with guns,” attorney Nicholas W. Hicks told the court.
“Kids are carrying guns like we used to carry our fists, because they have to walk those streets.”
Erie County Assistant District Attorney Gary W. Hackbush, who prosecuted the case, didn’t argue with that, telling the court that Goodwin’s death over a “simple argument” was “sudden, violent and utterly senseless.”
“The handgun did not magically appear in (Austin’s) hand,” Hackbush said. “He decided to use a gun to permanently to settle the dispute.”
The two men had been having a dispute on a Crossman Avenue sidewalk when Austin fired a bullet into Goodwin’s chest, killing him instantly. His attorney said Wednesday that Austin thought Goodwin, 28, was reaching for something in his waistband.
Austin, who had no major criminal history and was going into 12th grade in high school, was quickly identified as the shooter. He turned himself in at Police Headquarters three days after Goodwin died and, in December, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Before County Judge Kenneth F. Case pronounced the sentence, Goodwin’s sister, Nicole Bursie, spoke on behalf of the family and their loss.
“There should have been a better way,” Bursie told the judge before expressing her anger at Austin. “I’ve been looking at this young man’s face since this trial started, and all I’ve seen is smiles and smirks. He thinks this is a joke. I’ve seen his family giving him smiles and blowing kisses.
“We wish we could do that, too,” she said as Goodwin’s mother wept at her seat. “We’ve lost a beautiful young man.”
Austin declined to say anything before he was sentenced.
The judge told Goodwin’s family that he also believed that “the world has certainly lost a good man.”
“All this hurt and anguish is a result of your actions, Mr. Austin,” Case said to the defendant and then spoke to the larger issue:
“There are too many young men running around this city with guns and settling arguments with guns,” Case said. “People who aren’t even able to make everyday decisions shouldn’t be making decisions about who lives and who dies.”
With that in mind, the judge sentenced Austin to 22 years in prison and five years post-release supervision.