AG investigates trained Suffolk officers in fatal shooting of known mentally ill man
The New York Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) has initiated an investigation into the actions of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) surrounding the fatal shooting of Alan Weber, 54, inside his East Northport home.
The officers involved failed to deescalate the situation despite having received specialized training in dealing with mental health crises.
On October 10, 2023, SCPD officers were called to Weber’s residence following reports of erratic behavior. According to neighbors, police had previously responded to the home multiple times in the past weeks for similar disturbances.
This particular evening, officers found Weber wearing a fencing mask and wielding two fencing swords. Within four minutes of their arrival, Weber had been shot and was later pronounced dead at Huntington Hospital.
Fencing swords are generally not designed to be lethal. They are sports equipment created for the structured environment of competitive fencing.
There are three types of fencing swords: the foil, the épée and the sabre. All have blunted tips and are made to flex upon contact to minimize the risk of injury.
While they can potentially cause harm if used improperly, such as poking someone in an eye or striking with excessive force, they are not designed for lethality like sharp-edged swords or weapons.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison defended the officers’ actions, stating that after Weber advanced towards them, one officer deployed a taser which failed to subdue him. A second officer then fired his service weapon, killing Weber. Both officers had undergone special training aimed at managing situations involving individuals with mental health issues, Harrison confirmed.
The circumstances, however, raise questions about whether that training was sufficient or effective in de-escalating a volatile situation that culminated in a civilian’s death. OSI, as per New York State Executive Law Section 70-b, will conduct an exhaustive investigation into whether the officers’ actions or omissions caused Weber’s death.
Neighbors and others familiar with Weber noted that he had a history of mental illness, a factor that, given the officers’ specialized training, should have been considered when handling the situation. Weber was at one point a champion fencer.
The OSI inquiry aims to provide clarity on whether SCPD officers complied with their training protocols and whether those protocols are effective in averting fatal outcomes.
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