BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Police held a press conference Tuesday to address the Tasering and arrest of a rape suspect who jumped from a roof of a garage last week in an attempt to flee the scene.
The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, near the intersection of W. Utica Street and Brayton Street. Victor Cramer-Williams, 27, was taken to ECMC for treatment of his leg after injuring it in his jump from the roof.
With this incident being the second use of Tasers following the BPD’s implementation of the new Taser program, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia addressed the program and the department’s “continuing effort to be as transparent as possible.”
“I think in the spirit of transparency, and showing that here is a situation that could’ve taken a different turn because of a physical engagement, you saw the Taser used at it was designed,” Commissioner Gramaglia said.
Gramaglia said the instance was a “successful deployment” of the Tasers, that officers followed proper protocols and used the Tasers as they were designed — to apprehend the suspect, while reducing the chance of injury to officers or the suspect, due to continuation of a potential physical encounter.
Gramaglia also said 60% of the department — about 450 officers — are trained to carry a Taser, and said he’d supply an official number of eligible officers Wednesday. He added that each officer does not have their own Taser, as Tasers are shared throughout the department.
“I think we have a sufficient number of Tasers,” he said. “We have 20 per district. That’s enough to cover the amount of officers covering a shift in most cases.”
Regarding the incident, the commissioner said Cramer-Williams discarded a bag, which was found to contain a loaded 9 mm Beretta handgun, which was not legally registered, so he was also charged with illegal possession of a weapon.
Cramer-Williams was Tasered from a distance after leaping to the ground and “dry stunned” the second time, with the Taser brought directly to his body before he was handcuffed.
The commissioner said his officers’ use of force was justified in this incident because the suspect was fighting back.
“Had he given up, there would’ve been no use of force necessary, but he didn’t,” Commissioner Gramaglia said.
He noted that the only injury sustained was when Cramer-Williams jumped from the garage, and that despite the injury, he still managed to run down the driveway and continue to fight before being Tasered.
Gramaglia said he believed the officers used good communication, yelling verbal commands at the suspect and making sure nobody Tasered Cramer-Williams while he was on the roof.
“I don’t know where he thought he was going,” Gramaglia said. “He was obviously not in his right frame of mind — he wanted to escape and he thought rooftops was the way to go.”
Commissioner Gramaglia said that due to a lot of media inquiry during the incident, he wanted to be transparent about the issue.
Regarding the incident last month in which three officers were shot during a pursuit, an issue which also received a lot of inquiry regarding bodycam footage, Gramaglia said it has yet to be released due to there being “a significant number of officers involved” with “a significant amount of video.”
He said Thursday’s rooftop incident, which was in one location and “much easier,” as well as the Hertel Avenue incident when officers shot a man wielding a knife, were released quicker due to the brevity of the video. News 4 is monitoring the release of that video and will provide an update if it is released.
He said Cramer-Williams is also under investigation for an additional violent crime, and more information will be released upon conclusion of that investigation.
The bodycam footage of the Tasering can be seen above; the full press conference can be seen below.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.