Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Manuel Beras Medina

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Manuel Kelvin Beras Medina, who died on November 18, 2022 in an encounter with law enforcement in Inwood, Manhattan, New York County. Following a thorough investigation, which involved witness interviews, review of crime scene evidence, and comprehensive legal analysis, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the officers’ use of deadly force against Mr. Medina was justified, and therefore charges could not be pursued in this matter. 

On the evening of November 18, 2022, New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers with a joint state, city, and federal Strike Force working in conjunction with federal prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO-SDNY) were attempting to purchase kilograms of cocaine from an alleged seller at a restaurant in Inwood, Manhattan. The Strike Force is comprised of NYPD officers, New York State Police (NYSP) troopers, and special agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Strike Force members arrived at the restaurant shortly after 7 p.m. and waited for 30 minutes before the alleged seller changed the meeting location to an apartment building at Vermilyea Avenue and West 204th Street. 

While waiting outside the building, Strike Force members observed Mr. Medina exit the lobby while talking on his phone before returning to the building and entering an apartment at the back of the lobby. At 8:30 p.m., one member told the others over the radio that there were drugs visible inside the apartment and gave the order to move in. The Strike Force members entered the apartment calling for Mr. Medina to put his hands up, but instead he pulled a gun from his waistband and fired multiple times as he backed into the kitchen. Four officers fired in response. Mr. Medina was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers recovered two firearms at the scene.

Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the 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. Medina, who was the target of a drug taskforce investigation, fired a gun at multiple officers and did not drop the weapon. 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 in this matter.