‘Tragic for Everyone Involved’, Utica PD Official Talks About Fatal Shooting Incident This Week
We're learning more about the officer involved shooting that resulted in the death of a 61-year-old Utica man earlier this week. The fatal shooting has prompted two probes into the response of officers who encountered David Litts at his Neilson Street home armed with a knife, police have said.
Litts himself called 911, or was one of those who did, and reportedly made comments that he was suicidal and also may have made threats against officers before they even arrived on scene.
Via police radio transmissions, as reported by WKTV:
“...saying that he is suicidal, he wants to put a gun in his mouth. He has access to a .22…threw it into the basement. He is also saying that he has long-term COVID. Actually threatening to kill a police officer at this point and that he doesn’t care and he’s been up for four nights…"
The Utica PD's Public Information Officer was on scene during the incident but said he could not go into full detail out of respect for ongoing investigations by the New York State Attorney General's Office and an internal review by UPD - both are automatic in the wake of an officer involved fatality.
While he couldn't go into detail, Sgt. Michael Curley was on the scene during the incident and said it is 'tragic for everyone involved', including Litts, his family, the police officers and all who may have witnessed the deadly shooting.
"...Being on scene, it is my opinion and my opinion only that these officers could have done nothing else. They performed admirably, but unfortunately it ended in this tragic situation," Curley said.
Curley also confirmed to WIBX 950 that more than one officer fired shots at Litts as the incident escalated and resulted in his death. Those officers are on leave pending the results of the investigation, but also to allow them time to seek counseling, if necessary, and to process the incident, he said.
"When we place an officer on leave it is not an indication that they didn't follow procedure or policy. [Cops] aren't robots, they're human beings. They took a man's life and that is not something they wanted to do, or were trying to do," Curley said.
When asked if the officers had attempted to use non-lethal tactics before discharging their firearms, Curley said they did not, adding that part of the investigations by UPD and the AG's Office will look at "whether or not that was even feasible in this situation," Curley said.