BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Of the three officers who were shot during the pursuit of Kente Bell, 28, this past March, two were hit by friendly fire.
On Wednesday morning, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn provided an update on the charges against Bell, who has been indicted on five counts of first-degree attempted murder. Originally, he was only facing three counts.
During the chase, which spanned numerous busy streets and temporarily crossed into Cheektowaga before returning to Buffalo, numerous shots were fired. Flynn believes at least 14 came from Bell.
Of those shots fired, at least one struck a Buffalo police officer. Two other officers were hit by bullets from other officers, they are officers Joseph McCarthy and Christopher Wilson. The DA made it clear that only one of the five counts of attempted murder against Bell pertains to the officer who was allegedly shot by Bell. The friendly fire bullets that struck the other two officers are not counted in those charges.
Although every shot fired by a police officer was legally justified, according to officials, Flynn indicated that some of the officers should have been safer about their weapon use.
“There’s no penal law that articulates common sense, so I can’t charge any Buffalo police officer with a violation of common sense,” Flynn said.
No charges will be pressed against any officers in relation to this incident.
“Buffalo police will continue its internal probe and now that the officers have been criminally cleared of any wrongdoing, the department will take the next steps as part of the internal review,” the Buffalo Police Department said. “The police department has also had to review over 120 body worn camera videos and anticipates releasing video by the end of the week.”
In addition to the five counts of attempted murder, Bell has also been charged with criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful fleeing of a police officer in a motor vehicle and reckless endangerment.
At no point during this situation did Bell get out of the vehicle. Flynn says that due to being partially paralyzed, Bell drove a vehicle that did not require him to use his feet.
Approximately 16 officers fired their weapons, but the majority of the shots fired happened near the end of the situation. No pedestrians were struck.
When it comes to just how many rounds were fired by officers, Flynn said it was very high.
“I can’t put a number on that,” Flynn said.
Bell was shot approximately three to four times. Flynn says he was struck in the hand, shoulder and a lower extremity. He’s undergoing rehabilitation at ECMC.
If convicted of the highest charges, Bell could spend 40 years to life in prison. He was on probation for a gun charge at the time of his arrest. Flynn says that Bell used a pistol with an extended magazine.
A plea of not guilty was entered on Bell’s behalf, he is being represented by a public defender.
An Erie County probation officer and their supervisor were suspended without pay after failing to follow up on Bell, for a report of him having a gun. We are awaiting an update on their status.
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