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AG Declines to Charge Suffolk Cop Who Fatally Shot Man With Pellet Gun

air rifle
The air rifle that police said Jeffrey McClure pointed at officers (NYAG photo)

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office has declined to press charges against a Suffolk County police officer who fatally shot a 26-year-old man at his East Northport home two years ago.

The attorney general’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) issued its report Wednesday following an investigation into police shooting Jeffrey McClure, who had pointed a pellet gun at officers and threatened to shoot them shortly after 10 p.m. on June 7, 2020. Police said at the time they thought the weapon was a hunting rifle. McClure, who police said ignored commands to drop the weapon before an officer shot him, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

“Following a thorough review of the facts and evidence, OSI determined criminal charges could not be pursued in this case,” James said in a statement. “That said, my heart aches for all who held Mr. McClure dear as they continue to cope with the tragic loss of a loved one, and I offer Mr. McClure’s family and friends my sincere condolences.”

The state attorney general’s office was mandated to investigate all fatal police shootings following a 2015 executive order issued by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Police had responded to a 911 caller reporting a person under the influence of drugs and alcohol experiencing a mental health crisis and brandishing a pellet gun on the night of the shooting. Upon arrival, McClure ran away when officers ordered him to drop the weapon, fled to the basement where his family stored firearms, then climbed onto the roof of the house and pointed the rifle at officers, authorities said.

His parents had told police and 911 that McClure was “going off the wall” and “going berserk” at the time.

“You want to point that gun at me, I’m going to kill you,” one officer warned McClure. Another officer shouted at McClure: “If you point your gun at me I will shoot you.” And another told McClure: “Don’t point that gun at me or you will get shot.”

OSI determined that officers were reasonable in using deadly physical force to protect themselves under the circumstances, since the officers believed the air rifle could have been a real gun, according to the report.

To help better handle such situations in the future, state investigators recommended the police department accelerate officer training for responding to mental health crises, improve its tactical response procedures and fully implement its program to outfit officers with body-worn cameras. It noted that after the shooting, SCPD created the Behavioral Health Section and a 911 Mental Health Call Diversion Program. 

Police did not immediately comment on the report’s findings.

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