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NY AG releases body camera videos of police encounter with Troy Hodge, Lockport man's death under investigation

Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 23:32:44-05

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James has released body cam footage of a police encounter with Troy Hodge, a Lockport man who died following the encounter with the Lockport police and Niagara County Sheriff's Deputies in June 2019.

Police said they responded to a call for an "out of control" individual on June 15th, 2019.

After arriving police say Hodge threatened to go into the house and get a gun.

Officers tired to put Hodge into handcuffs but he collapsed at the scene and was declared dead at the Eastern Niagara Hospital. Hodge's death is now under investigation by the New York State Attorney General Office's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit.

Joseph D. Morath, Jr., the Hodge family's attorney, said they learned yesterday the footage would be released.

“We were in conversations with the family as to whether they wanted it released, and when they wanted it released, and they were preparing themselves for the release," he said. "I don’t think there’s ever a good time to do it.”

He said the family hopes the footage becoming public will lead to change in Lockport and across the country.

“We're relieved in the sense that the full story is finally getting out," Morath said. "Of course it’s a very traumatic time for the family, but they understand it's an important step in obtaining justice for Troy, and more importantly, it's an important step in ensuring that this doesn't happen to somebody else."

Back in July 2019, I-Team Investigator Ed Drantch found that Lockport police may not have followed body camera policy when responding to Hodge.

The I-Team obtained the body camera policy which stated the following

...recordings will not be required if it would be unsafe, impossible or impractical...once the system has been activated, it shall not be deactivated until the event has concluded and the officer drives away from the scene.
Lockport Police Department

According to the policy, "the body camera equipment is the responsibility of the officer assigned to maintain in good working order."

This followed several calls for new body cameras in the City of Lockport.

The attorney general's office released the following:

While SIPU’s primary objective is to fairly and thoroughly investigate these incidents, it also seeks to provide transparency to the public and to strengthen the public's trust in these matters. As detailed below, to further increase transparency, Attorney General James issued a directive that body-worn camera and dashboard camera footage obtained in the course of a SIPU investigation into a matter over which SIPU has jurisdiction will be released to the public.

The Lockport community protested Hodge's death in 2019 saying, "this has been starting for years, the black men and the black boys are scared to be here. We pay our taxes. We work 9 to 5. We should be treated as such."

You can watch the body camera footage below.

NOTE: Parts of these videos may be graphic in nature and difficult for some viewers to watch.

Lt. Warsoki

Ofc. Barrancotta

Dep. Finley

Dep. Austin

Ofc. Barrancotta (audio only)

In response to the attorney general's office's release of the video, Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman issued the following statement.