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NY AG: insufficient evidence that crime had been committed by officers in death of Troy Hodge

troy hodge.jpg
Posted at 3:39 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 23:55:43-04

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit (SIPU) released its report on the death of Troy Hodge Friday.

Hodge died following an encounter with Lockport police in June 2019, police said they responded to a call for an "out of control" individual.

After arriving police say Hodge threatened to go into the house and get a gun, officers tired to put him in handcuffs but he collapsed at the scene and was declared dead at Eastern Niagara Hospital.

The New York Attorney General later announced an investigation into Hodge's death.

Attorney General James released body camera footage of the police encounter with Hodge in December 2020.

Friday, AG James' SIPU released its report on Hodge's death, concluding "there was insufficient evidence to establish that a crime had been committed by any of the responding officers from the Lockport Police Department (LPD) and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO)."

Attorneys for the Hodge family believe the officers should face criminal charges. They said in a statement two of the officers created the circumstances that led to Hodge's death, quickly moving to excessive force.

“The conduct of the first two officers to arrive created the circumstances that resulted in the police killing Troy, because they escalated in their use of force unnecessarily and quickly moved to using excessive force when responding to a medical call from Troy’s mother,” the statement read.

Officials say the response to the incident is cause for serious concern and as a result SIPU has included a series of recommendations.

  1. LPD discontinue its 911 call center and allow Niagara County to take over the dispatching responsibility in the area.
    1. SIPU determined having two 911 systems in the City of Lockport hindered emergency medical response in this incident.
  2. Improve the response to high-stress and high-risk situations, which includes training all law enforcement officers, dispatchers, and emergency medical personnel.
    1. SIPU says those involved in responding to calls should be trained to recognize symptoms, such as the ones Hodge displayed, are serious and require a more robust response.
  3. LPD review its “Use of Force" policy in its entirety.
    1. SIPU says LPD should emphasize methods that focus on de-escalation and tailor the instances under which deadly force is authorized to fit a narrower description.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Troy Hodge,” said Attorney General James. “We engaged in an extensive and complete review of the facts in this case and determined that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that a crime had been committed. However, the actions of some of the officers raised serious concerns and should not go unaddressed. By narrowly tailoring the “Use of Force” policy and training law enforcement to recognize signs of distress as a medical emergency, we can lessen the risk associated with high-stress situations such as the one we are addressing today. Troy Hodge’s death was a tragedy and we hope that the Lockport Police Department and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office will implement the recommendations we have made in our report.”

Hodge's mother is suing the suing the department over the death of her son. But, she tells our I-Team it’s not about the money. She wants justice for her son in the form of training and a better understanding of how to handle mental health or drug-related calls.

The family's attorneys said reform in Lockport is long overdue, and something the family's been demanding. The said the recommendations will help save the next Troy Hodge.

"The Attorney General’s recommendations galvanize the resolve of the Hodge family to obtain justice for Troy, his daughter, and Lockport by holding the City of Lockport and these officers accountable for their conduct, so that what happened to Troy won’t happen to the next family whose son, father, and loved one needs medical help but is killed instead," the statement from the Hodge family's attorneys said.