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Family members want answers after Town of Niagara police officer kills man while responding to domestic dispute

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Daniel Kachinoski

Daniel Kachinoski, right, with his brother, Nicholas Campbell, taken 10 years ago at Campbell's graduation. Kachinoski was killed by Town of Niagara police Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Campbell)

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Nicholas Campbell wants to know what happened. How did a police call to intervene in a mother-son argument escalate into a violent confrontation with police that left his older brother dead, his mother devastated, and a 7-year-old boy traumatized and fatherless.

"He keeps asking if his daddy is in heaven," said Campbell, adding that the boy was asking for his father's picture Sunday.

Daniel D. Kachinoski, 40, of Chester Avenue, was shot and killed by an officer after Town of Niagara police responded to a domestic incident at the house around 8:45 p.m. where he, his mother and his son lived.

Chief Craig Guiliani, who released a brief report on the incident, declined to provide Kachinoski's name or any further details about the circumstances involving his death. An update is planned for 2 p.m. Monday.

But family members said they believe one thing: It should never have come to this.

"I believe his mom was calling for help, not for them to kill her son," said Kachinoski's cousin, Kyle Humphrey. "Where's the training?"

Family members said Kachinoski and his mother had gotten into an argument after his mother came home from work after a long nursing shift. Kachinoski lives with his mother and has been raising his son in the same household as a single parent.

The mother called the police to help calm things down. But instead, she and Campbell said, matters further escalated after the police arrived. The police wound up using a Taser on Kachinoski while his mother and son were present in the room. The two retreated to a bedroom when they heard gunshots.

Campbell, 32, said what he understands from the police and scanner audio is that his brother was shot twice in the chest and that there was a knife at the scene. Video footage from the house, as well as Kachinoski's mobile phone, were taken by police for evidence, he said.

Guiliani confirmed to The Buffalo News on Sunday that there is police body camera footage of the incident. The police department is putting that together so people can understand the situation and why the officer took that action.

“We will release an excerpt of it,” he said.

An investigation is continuing by the Town of Niagara Police Department, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, the Niagara County District Attorney's Office and the State Attorney General's Office.

Niagara County District Attorney Brian D. Seaman referred all follow-up questions to the Attorney General's Office, saying that this matter falls under the attorney general's jurisdiction. A spokeswoman said Sunday the Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation is conducting a preliminary assessment of the matter.

Kachinoski was a devoted father who had developed a close relationship with God, said family members. Though he struggled with mental illness and addiction, his priority was raising his son. A graduate of Niagara Wheatfield High School, he also worked as a roofer and enjoyed working on cars and engines.

"Everybody loved Dan," said Humphrey, 49. "Dan was into being a daddy. For the last seven years of his life, he struggled to be the best daddy he could be."

Kachinoski had posted to Facebook on Saturday that he was looking for help getting a neighbor plowed out from the snow. He also expressed some anger and frustration and said he would remember those who have been by his side and those who haven't.

He had also posted messages recently expressing his faith.

"The devil had his grips on me for a long time but he is truly delivered me from darkness," he wrote in a Facebook post just over a week ago, "and the more that I read his word the closer the time comes. I love you all."

Campbell said he intends to file a Freedom of Information Law request with the police department for all information and video footage showing what transpired Saturday night.

He knows it might be hard to see, he said, but he wants to make sure that police were fully within their rights to shoot and kill his brother. 

As it stands, he said, he spent several hours early Saturday morning cleaning up his brother's blood, as well as the used paraphernalia from police and emergency medical personnel that had been left behind in haste.

"There's blood everywhere," he said. "It's pretty sickening to me."

Without seeing all the evidence police have from Saturday night's incident, he said, it will be hard for him to get the closure he needs.

"No one's a perfect person," Campbell said of his older brother. "He definitely had his demons here and there. I think we all do. But he was loved by many. There's a lot of people and a lot of upset hearts. The whole Town of Niagara feels a little different today."

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Reporter

I use the Erie County government beat to find issues and stories that tell us something important about how we live. An alumna of the Columbia Journalism School and Buffalo News staff reporter since 2000, I can be reached at stan@buffnews.com

Reporter

I'm a Genesee County native and Syracuse University grad who covered business at the (Binghamton) Press & Sun-Bulletin and at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I joined The Buffalo News in September 2021, covering the business of health care.

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