A Buffalo Police officer is in “fair” condition and good spirits after he was shot in the head on Sunday evening in the Black Rock-Riverside neighborhood.
Official information is limited due to an ongoing investigation by the Buffalo Police homicide squad and internal affairs division, but Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said officer Joseph Acquino, 31, is lucky to be alive.
“An inch difference and it would be a different story today,” said Brown.
Acquino is recovering from his injuries at the Erie County Medical Center, surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues.
At a briefing with reporters on Monday afternoon, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda explained the incident began with a traffic stop.
“A struggle ensued with the suspect,” said Derenda. “The officer was shot by the suspect later and continued more struggle. And then the suspect was shot by one of our officers. We don’t have a lot more that we’re going into at this point.”
The second officer involved in the incident – Acquino’s partner, 36 year old Justin Tedesco – was also taken to ECMC for evaluation. He was released on Sunday in “good” condition. Derenda would not confirm which of the two officers shot the suspect, Jose Hernandez-Rossy, 26, of Buffalo, who died and was taken to Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
Why the traffic stop occurred, in the first place, was also not made clear. Derenda said he had not yet received a final report on the incident.
Acquino is the first officer to be shot in the line of duty since December 2006, when Officer Patricia “Patty” Perete suffered a paralyzing wound to the spine. Parete died in 2013 at age 48. Despite a decrease in crime in the city since that time, Derenda said being a police officer is still a very dangerous job.
“I think our officers know that,” said Derenda. “They put their lives on the line each and every day. At any moment, things can go from totally boring to an incident like we had yesterday. Again, I believe we’re prepared for whatever.”
The BPD has been in touch with both the offices of the Erie County District Attorney and the State Attorney General. It has not been determined which one will handle the overall investigation of the shooting.
As part of regular procedure in the event of a shooting, both officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. Both officers joined the BPD in 2012.
Watch a video of Monday afternoon's update by Mayor Byron Brown and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda here.