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Buffalo man who was shot by police indicted for having a gun

A Buffalo man accused of pointing a gun at two Buffalo police officers who then shot him four times, wounding him in late December, was indicted on a count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the Erie County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

William A. Fugate, 30, was arraigned Wednesday before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.

No charges were filed against the officers. Police sources identified them as Mitchell J. Thomas and Mitchell R. Thomas, who are brothers.

According to the DA's Office, the police officers "initiated a traffic stop on Northland Avenue and Lonsdale Road for a vehicle that made an illegal U-turn" about 10:25 p.m. Dec. 29.

Prosecutors say Fugate was in the back seat of the vehicle and tried to flee.

"The defendant is accused of pointing a gun towards the officers as he ran from the scene. The officers fired their weapons and the defendant was struck four times," a statement from the DA's Office said.

Fugate, who was on parole at the time of the incident, was found a short time later, hiding in a backyard, prosecutors said.

He was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment of the gunshot wounds to the side of his body.

Prosecutors said a "loaded, illegal pistol" was found in Fugate's "flight path."

Friday morning, Fugate's attorney, Samuel P. Davis gave a short statement. "Mr. Fugate disputes the police version of events at this time. We have no further comment as we have not reviewed the discovery materials yet," he said in an email.

Fugate remains held at the Erie County Holding Center without bail. If convicted on the weapons charge, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Thomas H. Burton, who represented the officers, said the DA's prosecutors interviewed the officers on Friday.

"The DA's Office reviewed the police use of deadly force at length and, in fact, spent the better part of the day reviewing the incident with both officers who cooperated fully in that endeavor," Burton said.

Burton said the officers are cleared in the shooting.

"They are now cleared from any state-level prosecution because they testified without a waiver of immunity," Burton said. "The only thing that remains at this point is an internal review with the Internal Affairs Division of the Buffalo Police Department."

The officers have been on administrative leave, standard practice following an officer-involved shooting.

Burton described a tense scene on the night of the shooting.

"This shooting incident unraveled in seconds," Burton said. "The officers fired at Fugate as he was attempting to draw a loaded semi-automatic handgun from his waistband. Their reaction was instantaneous. Fortunately, they went home in one piece."

The police officers' body-worn camera footage was reviewed as part of the investigation, Burton said. "Bodycam footage here was helpful but not determinative."

"I'm happy justice is finally being served," said John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association about the indictment. "Not charging him the evening this occurred was an injustice to the police officers involved."

Fugate had been out on parole since April 2018 after serving just under nine years on first-degree counts of attempted robbery and attempted assault.

Investigators examine bodycam video in police shooting of Buffalo man

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