Town of Niagara shooting

Several police agencies were on hand Saturday night following a police-involved shooting on the 4700 block of Chester Avenue in the Town of Niagara. (Photo by RobShots)

TOWN OF NIAGARA — The New York State Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the police-involved shooting Saturday night that took the life of a Town of Niagara man.

The deceased man is identified as Daniel Kachinoski, 40, of Chester Avenue. Kachinoski was pronounced dead at the scene from gunshot wounds to his chest and neck

Video recorded by the body cameras worn by Town of Niagara Police Officer Alex Wagner and fellow Town of Niagara Police Officer Angela Micale.

At a mid-afternoon news conference on Monday, Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti said he believes that a preliminary investigation into the incident shows that the officer who fired the shots, Town of Niagara Police Officer Alex Wagner, was justified in his actions.

“My initial assessment is the officers had to protect themselves and others who were in the room, including a child,” Filicetti said. “In my opinion, they were justified in their use of force. They had run out of space and options.”

Filicetti said his assessment was based on a review of video recorded by the body cameras worn by Wagner and fellow Town of Niagara Police Officer Angela Micale, who was also at the scene, as well as video from a security camera in the room where the incident took place — as well as 911 calls and police radio transmissions. Filicetti said that evidence has also already been shared with the state Attorney General’s office.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) said, “Pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 70-b, OSI assesses every incident reported to it where a police officer or a peace officer, including a corrections officer, may have caused the death of a person, by an act or omission. Under the law, the officer may be on-duty or off-duty, and the decedent may be armed or unarmed. Also, the decedent may or may not be in custody or incarcerated. If OSI’s assessment indicates an officer caused the death, OSI proceeds to conduct a full investigation of the incident.”

Filicetti and Town of Niagara Police Chief Craig Guiliani released the body and security camera footage to news outlets on Monday and provided a detailed timeline of how the incident unfolded. The sheriff said he was concerned about what he called “misinformation and speculation” spreading on social media platforms.

“I think it’s important in the age of social media, there is a lot going on about what people think took place,” Filicetti said. “So it’s important to be transparent. We have the body cameras for a reason. It’s important to get this out so people know what happened.”

In addition to the Attorney General’s investigation, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Bureau investigators are working with the Town of Niagara police to piece together the details of what happened.

According to the investigator’s timeline, Wagner, 29, a two-year veteran of the force, with four years of police experience, and Micale, 24, a member of town police department for a year, were dispatched to Kachinoski’s home in the 4700 block of Chester Avenue, at 8:44 p.m. Saturday. The call was for a domestic disturbance.

Sources said that Kachinoski’s mother called 911 saying that her son was acting “irrational.”

Wagner and Micale arrived at the home at 8:53 p.m. and were met at the side door of the home by Kachinoski, who was described as “aggravated” by the officer’s arrival. However, Kachinoski let both Wagner and Micale into the home.

According to the investigator’s timeline, Wagner began interviewing Kachinoski’s mother, while Micale spoke with Kachinoski in another room. After a few minutes. Wagner joined Micale in speaking with Kachinoski.

The video from Micale’s body cam shows Kachinoski demanding that his mother leave the home, saying he doesn’t “want to get mad and upset in front of my kid.” Kachinoski, in response to questions from Wagner captured on the officer’s body cam, claims that his mother has been abusive to him and says that officers should know that “because you have been here a hundred (expletive) times over the the last 20 years.”

The body camera videos show that after several minutes of talking with the officers, Kachinoski demands that they leave his home. When the officers tell him they will not leave, Kachinoski appears to become increasingly agitated.

Wagner tells him, “Well I was called here for a reason and you’re hurting your mother.”

Kachinoski replies, “I don’t care who I’m hurting.”

As the officers continue to refuse to leave the home, the video shows Kachinoski standing by an open door and gesturing for them to leave. He then says to the officers, “You’ll be leaving.”

Wagner says, “How’s that?’

And Kachinoski replies, “Do you want me to make you leave my home.”

As Kachinosk continues to threaten to remove the officers from his home, Wagner tells him he will be placed under arrest. Wagner’s body camera then shows the officer approaching Kachinoski, and telling him to place his hands behind his back.

As the officer advances, a child can be heard screaming and Kachinoski tells Wagner to “put your hands behind your back.” Kachinoski then pushes Wagner and the officer pulls out his Taser and fires both cartridges.

Neither of the tethers from the cartridges appear to attach to Kachinoski or immobilize him.

The body cam video shows Kachinoski pick up a chair and approach the officers. Micale then fires a Taser cartridge, which appears to have no effect on Kachinoski.

As Kachinoski becomes increasingly aggressive, the body cam video shows Wagner point his gun at him and both officers yell for him to “get on the ground.”

Kachinoski then appears to grab something in his hand and yells, “Is this what I gotta do to you folks?”

Video captured by the indoor security camera shows the two officers backed into a corner of the room as Kachinoski, with a chair in his left hand, raises his right hand over his head, holding a knife and then begins to bring the knife forward and down toward Wagner. Wagner then fires two shots, striking Kachinoski first in the chest and then in the neck as he falls forward.

The entire incident lasted just 8 minutes.

A photo of the knife, released by investigators, shows an ornamental-looking weapon, 18 inches in length, with a 10-inch blade.

In response to some public criticism of the use of force, Filicetti said the video showed that, “Tasers aren’t always successful.” He added, “A knife is a deadly instrument.”

With Kachinoski is wounded and on the floor, investigators said Wagner placed him in handcuffs and told Micale to get a medical bag from a patrol car. In a transmission to police dispatchers, Wagner tells them, shots have been fired, adding, “He charged at me with a chair and a knife.”

Guiliani said both Wagner and Micale have been placed on administrative leave. He said the officers were “obviously trying to decompress. It was a stressful situation.”

The Town of Niagara chief said this was the first officer-involved shooting in the department’s history.

“I believe (the shooting) was justified. We took every step, they tried to de-escalate,” Guiliani said. “They give him every opportunity to comply.”

Filicetti said investigators are continuing their work and will review the history of prior police calls to Kachinoski’s home.

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