Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey is urging people to stay calm and await the results of an investigation after a Friday evening shooting incident that left one man dead and several police officers wounded.
According to a police report, City of Newburgh police officers approached an individual in the area of 40 William Street who was wanted for questioning in a shooting incident that occurred on March 26 in the area of Benkard Ave and William Street.
The police report states that when officers approached the individual (later identified as Tyrell "T-Rex" Fincher) he displayed a silver handgun. A struggle ensued and the handgun discharged and multiple officers returned fire. The officers were taken to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital for treatment. Fincher was also brought to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to multiple reports, a large crowd gathered at the hospital, and later convened downtown when news of the incident surfaced.
Mayor Torrance Harvey described the incident and aftermath as a “horrible situation.” He later issued a plea via a Facebook post for people to stay in their homes, reminding citizens that Newburgh is already under a state of emergency
“We are still fighting with COVID 19,” Harvey said, and we had asked everyone to remain in their homes unless going to the grocery story, pharmacy or to exercise
The mayor said he had been working from home all day and had gone out for some exercise, when word of the incident came shortly after 5 p.m. He hurried down to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital to check on the status of the police officers and Fincher who was shot and later pronounced dead. He encountered a large crowd of people there.
Harvey later went to an emergency response team meeting at City Hall, along with Councilmembers Omari Shakur, and Anthony Grice, Police Chief Doug Solomon, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Harvey said. “We were able to see some of the body cam footage and it is a very distrurbing situation.”
Harvey later said that he considered asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to send the New York State National Guard to patrol the streets of the city, but prefer that residents voluntarily cooperate with authorities.
The incident is currently under investigation by the New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office, early Saturday morning, released still images from a body-worn camera that appear to show a man brandishing a pistol as he fought with City Police Officers. The stills purportedly show that when officers approached the man, he displayed a silver handgun and began fighting with officers, striking one of the officers in the head with a handgun. During the encounter the man discharged the pistol and City of Newburgh Police Officers fired their weapons.
“Normally in an investigation of this type of incident we would not be releasing images this early in the investigation,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “However, to allay community concerns, which quite frankly have been stoked by misinformation coming from a city official, we are releasing these images showing the armed man discharging his gun.”
Councilman Shakur, in a Facebook video, claimed he was denied admission to a press conference following the incident.
“… so it looks like they are trying to cover this up,” Shakur said on the video, “so I’m just letting the community know I’m trying to go into the press conference but they refuse to let me in, City councilman Shakur they said, you cannot come in, so it looks like a coverup going on in your community.”
In a later video, Shakur demanded to see the full body cam video.
“A young man was killed in the City of Newburgh, everybody in Newburgh should be saying something right now, an unarmed black man killed in Newburgh, see if you see this video tomorrow, you seen the video of me, see if you see this video tomorrow,” said Shakur, who has had a history of confrontation with the City of Newburgh Police. “ Y’all should be calling your Mayor, your City council people, call your Governor. These are killers in our community, these are killers, like I said, you seen a video about me, see if you see this video and demand to see the video. Peace.”
In 2015, the District Attorney’s Office and all Orange County police chiefs adopted a protocol to be used when police officers use deadly physical force that results in death or serious physical injury to a suspect or bystander. The protocol designates the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as the “lead agency” in an officer-involved fatality investigation and provides that the New York State Police will be contacted and will be asked to assist the District Attorney in the investigation. The New York State Police are to process the scene of the incident to preserve all forensic evidence and will perform forensic analysis. The protocol is designed to enhance public confidence in the outcome of officer-involved fatality investigations, by removing the “involved police agency” from the investigation.
At the request of and with the consent of the City of Newburgh Police Department, the protocol was activated in this investigation. New York State Police officers responded to the scene of the shooting and have recovered evidence and interviewed witnesses. The City of Newburgh Police Department is fully cooperating in the investigation and, pursuant to the protocol, safeguarded the scene until the State Police arrived.
Pursuant to an Executive Order signed by Governor Cuomo, which was later codified, certain police-involved shootings are investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. After being briefed on the incident, District Attorney Hoovler spoke to an Assistant Attorney General, who agreed that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office should continue its investigation. District Attorney Hoovler stated that he would keep the Attorney General’s Office updated as the investigation progresses. The Executive Order does not apply to instances where the deceased was armed.
Hoovler said the District Attorney’s Office will conduct two parallel investigations in this matter. One will consist of an investigation before an Orange County grand jury. The second will be an investigation conducted within the District Attorney’s Office. Although secrecy rules governing grand jury proceedings prevent some findings of the grand jury from being revealed, particularly in instances where no charges are authorized, no such rules govern the District Attorney’s Office’s investigation. The District Attorney will make public a report of his office’s finding atthe conclusion of the investigation.
In light of the time it takes to obtain results from scientific tests such as toxicology reports, Hoovler anticipates that the investigations will take three to five months to complete.
“We are searching for the facts with complete transparency,” Harvey said on Facebook Friday night. “We are asking everyone to please cooperate with law enforcement and please go home. We are in a state of emergency.”