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Letter: Shooting by NFTA officer is troubling on many levels

Shooting by NFTA officer is troubling on many levels

So, is it the policy of Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officers to pursue people after they leave the scene of a parking violation at a bus stop? I am completely baffled. Does this mean that a parking control officer can chase someone after they’ve been observed driving away from an expired meter?

Devere Thomas was observed illegally parked in a bus stop by Officer Robert Grawlick. After Thomas drove away, Grawlick followed him and flashed his lights only after Thomas stopped at a Burger King. Then a backup officer shot Thomas, who was not in violation of any law at the time, when he refused further conversation with Grawlick. Grawlick complained that he feared for his life after Thomas tried to drive away in shock and pain after being shot.

There is no evidence that Thomas had a gun or physically threatened Grawlick. There was no parking violation once Thomas left the bus stop. If Grawlick had simply let Thomas leave without pursuing him, nothing would have happened.

Thomas was convicted of “fleeing from an officer.” How was he illegally “fleeing” when he was trying to get away from the man who just shot him?

This incident is very troubling on so many levels: following someone after he drove away from an illegal parking spot; flashing lights only after the driver stopped for fast food; shooting an unarmed man through a windshield at close range; endangering an innocent passenger; and a 21-year-old being incarcerated for nine months for parking in a bus stop.

Mary Gin Starkweather

West Seneca

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