May 26 – State officials determined that a state trooper did not act improperly when he shot and killed a Franklin man in August 2021.
The Office of Special Investigations released its report on the August 6, 2021 death of Roger Lynch in Franklin on Friday. “Following a thorough investigation, which included reviewing radio transmissions, body-worn camera (BWC) footage, and interviews and depositions of responding officers, OSI has determined that a prosecutor will not would not be able to disprove the justification beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, and therefore criminal charges against the New York State Police (NYSP) trooper who shot Mr. Lynch are not warranted in this case,” a press release said.
According to the statement, members of the Delhi Police Department, Walton Police Department, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, State University of New York at Delhi Police Department and Delhi Police State responded on the evening of August 5, 2021 to a residency on Bob Holloway. Road in Delhi after learning that an individual had been shot dead. Once at the residence, they learned that a man later identified as Lynch had arrived at the house and shot one of the residents several times before leaving.
Based on information gathered by officers at the scene, the statement said, the dispatcher radioed an alert that the suspect was driving a gray Toyota pickup truck and provided a possible address. An off-duty State Police sergeant heard the alert and saw a gray van turn into the driveway at Lynch’s address at 994 State Route 28 in Franklin. The sergeant then waited until he was joined by a duty sergeant in a marked patrol cruiser, and together they attempted to encourage Lynch to come out unarmed. Lynch refused, firing a shot at the sergeants before retreating to his house.
The report goes on to say that sergeants began communicating with Lynch by home phone in a series of 16 calls made over a nine-hour period. At approximately 10 p.m., members of the NYSP Crisis Dealing Team responded to the scene to facilitate communication with Lynch, and at 11 p.m., members of the NYSP Special Operations Response Team arrived with an armored tactical vehicle called Bearcat.
Shortly after dawn the next morning, August 6, 2021, Lynch emerged from his home with his shotgun pointed under his chin. When the sergeant told him not to shoot himself, Lynch then leveled his shotgun over his shoulder and took aim at the Bearcat, where a soldier was stationed in the turret. The soldier fired his rifle at Lynch, who fell back into the house with his finger still on the trigger of his shotgun, where he was pronounced dead, according to the report.
Under New York’s law of justification, according to the press release, a person can use deadly physical force to defend themselves against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another. To convict a person of a crime when the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove the justification beyond a reasonable doubt.
In this case, the soldier who shot Lynch knew that he had repeatedly shot another person the night before and had attempted to shoot responding sergeants. When Lynch then pointed his shotgun at the Bearcat, the soldier “reasonably believed that Mr. Lynch intended to harm a member of the NYSP,” the statement said. “In these circumstances, given the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired was justified, and OSI has determined that criminal charges could not be brought against the officer,” the statement said. .
The OSI has always recommended that all law enforcement agencies equip officers with body-worn cameras, according to the statement. While the EISO members wore cameras, those in and around the Bearcat did not activate them before the fatal gunshot. “NYSP SORT is doing this so as not to reveal secret tactical decisions and techniques to the public,” the statement read.
“While the OSI recognizes the need to keep certain tactics confidential for security reasons, additional footage from the BWC would have greatly assisted in the investigation of this matter,” the report said. “Therefore, OSI recommends that NYSP SORT members activate their BWCs during every encounter with a member of the public, unless the Incident Commander has a specific tactical reason to protect confidential communications. In these scenarios, SORT members should continue to record video and disable audio.” The OSI also recommended that armored vehicles such as the Bearcat used in this case be equipped with mounted cameras to sufficiently capture activity in and around the vehicle.
The OSI is an office within the office of State Attorney General Letitia James. He investigates all cases where people are killed by police officers in New York.