Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Yoskar Feliz
EW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) released its report on the death of Yoskar Feliz, who died on January 20, 2022 in the Bronx. Following a thorough investigation, which included review of security camera video, body-worn camera footage, police radio transmissions, ballistics testing, and evidence from the scene, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the officers who shot Mr. Feliz were justified.
On the afternoon of January 20, 2022, two New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers responded to a 911 call reporting an apartment break-in at 3950 Bronx Boulevard. When officers arrived at the apartment, they encountered Mr. Feliz holding a gun and directed him to drop it, but he refused to comply. An officer attempted to subdue Mr. Feliz with a taser to no effect. Mr. Feliz then retreated to another room, fired his gun, and fled through a window.
Additional responding NYPD officers then spotted Mr. Feliz running across Shoelace Park while still holding the gun and chased after him. During the pursuit, the officers repeatedly yelled at Mr. Feliz to drop the gun, but he continued to ignore their requests. When Mr. Feliz then pointed his gun at one of the pursuing officers, three officers fired their weapons in response. Mr. Feliz was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Officers recovered a gun 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. Feliz had just fired his gun in the apartment, and then continued to ignore repeated commands to drop the weapon in the park, instead pointing his gun at an officer. Under these circumstances, based on the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers who fired were justified, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued against the officers.