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Distressed man fatally shot by Fredonia Police

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The Observer
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Fredonia Police and other agencies block off Liberty Street Monday afternoon.

One man is dead in what is being described as a confrontation between a Fredonia police officer and a man said to have been covered with blood and waving a knife.

The incident took place just before 2 p.m. Monday near 76 Liberty Street in Fredonia. Liberty Street was closed between Porter Avenue and Water Street, school bus routes in the neighborhood were disrupted and the school was put into lockdown mode at around 2 p.m.

Fredonia Police Chief Bradley Meyers said police responded to assist the Fredonia Fire Department with a man "locked in a bathroom with an unknown medical condition. There were other people in the home."

Meyers said the man then went outside, waving a knife. The chief said the unnamed officer shot the man as he ignored a warning and continued to advance on the officer. Meyers declined to describe the age or race of the deceased.

"These are never easy calls to handle. It's a difficult call," Meyers said. "It's unfortunate that at the end of the day, it had to result in the way that it did. I really don;t want to answer too many mor questions because the case is currently under investigation."

Meyers said the entire investigation has been turned over to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, with assistance by the New York State Police.

"Under New York State law, in any case involving an officer shooting, the Attorney General's Office is contacted and they have been to the scene," Meyers said.

Lawyer Thomas Burton is representing the unidentified officer, who was uninjured and has been put on administrative leave, according to Meyers. Burton said this is a textbook situation.

"If an officer is confronted with the imminent or actual use of deadly fore, the officer may respond in kind and there is never a duty in these circumstances, at least for a cop, ever to retreat," Burton said. "So in this instance, it doesn't get much more imminent than somebody waving a knife in your face."

Burton said there are multiple video tape recordings of what happened and multiple witnesses.

"I think we're going to see some video proof and there were some other first responders who saw what was going on," he said. "They were just as astounded as my guy was when this fellow blew out of the room with a knife in his hand."

Burton expects an autopsy and toxicology tests on the dead man, which might take weeks.

"Bottom line on all these things is, there's a fair amount of forensics," he said. "I suspect there will be an autopsy and a toxicology done on the individual who went after the officer with a knife. I don't know if there is a psychiatric overlay here, drugs, alcohol or maybe a combination of many things."

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.