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Caught on camera: Buffalo Police Department says taser pilot program saved man's life

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 10:26:42-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News has obtained body camera footage of police officers pointing a taser at an individual, an action they say de-escalated the situation-- possibly saving the individual's life.

Buffalo police officials say a pilot program is being tested by the department that gives tasers to officers in the B District.

The program began three months ago and continues for another two weeks, but police say they see a long-term role for tasers in the department, especially after what happened Wednesday night.

Caught on camera: Buffalo Police Department says taser pilot program saved man's life

Police say officers were dispatched to a home on the west side of Buffalo Wednesday night around 11:40 p.m. According to officers, two people inside the home were trying to calm down a man who had a knife.

At one point, the video shows the man lunged at the officers while they were inside the kitchen. The officers ran back into the living room, where they continued to talk to the man.

One officer then drew a taser, asking the man to drop the knife. The man eventually complied with the officer's request.

Buffalo police officials say the pilot program being tested by the department saved the life of the man in the video. In a normal situation, police say they would have possibly used a gun.

Buffalo police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says when you're dealing with someone armed with a knife, you can't use pepper spray because that won't stop the person in their tracks.

He says the reality is you have to use lethal force and if BPD wasn't part of this pilot program, he says they would've possibly fired their guns.

Rinaldo says the video above could end up being a training video if the department moves forward with tasers for officers.

If police do buy tasers for officers, they would cost $400-500K per year.

Both officers are being heralded by the department for their restraint.