Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Christopher Torres
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Christopher Torres, who died on January 10, 2023 in Putnam County. Following a thorough investigation, which included review of body-worn camera footage, 911 calls, interviews with witnesses, and evidence from the scene, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the actions of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deputies involved in the incident were justified.
On the morning of January 10, officers from a local police department and deputies from PCSO responded to a 911 call reporting a kidnapping in the town of Southeast, Putnam County. When PSCO deputies found Mr. Torres, the alleged kidnapper, he was in the process of stabbing another individual with a knife. The deputies directed Mr. Torres to drop his weapon, but he repeatedly refused to comply. When Mr. Torres moved his knife to the person’s throat, two deputies fired at Mr. Torres to prevent him from further harming the other civilian. Deputies then performed first aid until EMS arrived. Mr. Torres was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials recovered a knife at the scene.
Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another person. When the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, Mr. Torres was actively harming another person with a knife and ignoring requests to stop. Under these circumstances, given the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the deputies involved were justified in their actions, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be warranted.