New York Attorney General Orders Investigation Following Police Killing of Mentally Ill Black Man Accused of Eating a Banana and Grapes At Grocery Store: ‘He Was Having an Episode’

New York Attorney General Letitia James has ordered an investigation into the July 3 fatal shooting of a Black man by officers from the New Rochelle Police Department.

Jarrell Garris, 37, died one week after being shot by an officer in New Rochelle, New York, after being accused of stealing fruit.

According to FOX 5 New York, Garris was approached by the police around 4:30 p.m. after he was allegedly seen eating a banana and some grapes from a grocery store on Lincoln Avenue near North Avenue. Garris was approached by Detective Steven Conn and officers Kari Bird and Gabrielle Chavarry after receiving a 911 call from the grocery store about a food theft.

Jarrell Garris
Jarrell Garris moments before he is fatally shot by New Rochelle Police officers on July 3, 2023. (Photo: FOX 5 New York screenshot / YouTube)

Video of the moments leading up to the shooting was released by the New York Police Department and captured the two officers talking to Garris before attempting to arrest him. As Garris noticed the two police officers, he tried to avoid them by casually crossing the street with his hands in his pockets.

“Hey. Listen, we’re just trying to have a conversation,” said one of the officers. “What were you doing in the store? You were eating the food?”

“You’re under arrest,” said Conn.

“For what?” asked Garris.

The bodycam video then shows two of the officers attempting to arrest Garris and a struggle ensues as one of the officers yells to “taser him.” A few seconds later, the male cop yells, “He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun!”

The video, which at this point appears to show Garris with a small object in one hand, ends before the actual shooting. According to the police, Garris went for one of the officer’s guns.

Garris died at the Westchester Medical Center after being on life support for one week.

During a New Rochelle City Council meeting on July 11, the community demanded that all of the bodycam footage be released in the name of transparency. The Garris family attorney, William O. Wagstaff III, says that the public has been given the “veneer of transparency” by only releasing part of the video.

“We’ve gotten what appears to be a veneer of transparency,” said Wagstaff. “What true transparency means is releasing all video, all information, and they haven’t done it.”

The acting president of the NAACP in New Rochelle Aisha Cook also called for the full release of the bodycam footage.

“(The police) are not the judge and jury and executioner,” said Cook. “Jarrell deserved to have his rights upheld.”

The Garris family attended the meeting wearing T-shirts with his image printed on them with the text, “Justice for Jarrel #wemustcee2it” printed on the back, a reference to Garris’s nickname, “CeeTwo.”

Garris reportedly suffered from schizophrenia and other mental health issues, according to his family. Rev. Jamel Hollis noted that Garris was having an episode on the day he was shot and criticized the grocery store for calling the police on Garris.

“It is obvious that that day he was having an episode,” said Hollis. “I think it’s important to know that when you own a store in a community, and you have the community patronize your business, there should be some know-how and empathy in how you treat everybody in the community.”

Civil rights lawyer Mayo Bartlett said that while the police may have followed their protocol, a different approach may be needed.

“By the book, it seems to be fine,” said Bartlett of the arrest. “But maybe we need to reevaluate how we approach people as well.”

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