State troopers kill unarmed man in Rensselaer County

Posted at: 11/18/2013 7:27 PM | Updated at: 11/18/2013 7:53 PM
By: Steve Flamisch

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BERLIN – Two New York State Troopers shot and killed an unarmed man Sunday in Berlin State Forest, State Police said.

Steven J. Bell, 38, was allegedly lifting his hands as if he were raising a weapon, State Police said.

"When he starts making that motion, that is the concern, that he does have a weapon," New York State Police Captain Scott Coburn said at a press conference.

The sequence of events began at about 5:30 p.m. when authorities responded to a domestic dispute in which Bell had allegedly fired a rifle, State Police said.

About an hour later, his vehicle was found abandoned with ammunition inside but no rifle, leading troopers to believe he still had the weapon, State Police said.

A group of eight ENCON officers, Rensselaer County Sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers soon encountered Bell in the woods off Cowdry Hollow Rd., State Police said.

"At that time, he disregarded commands to stop," Coburn said. "He disregarded commands to show his hands. Then he made threatening statements as he continued his approach, and motioned as if he were bringing a weapon up."

That’s when two troopers opened fire, Coburn said.

"Troopers, believing the use of deadly force against them and others was imminent, responded by discharging rounds from a .223 patrol rifle and the Glock handgun that the troopers carry," Coburn said. He declined to say how many rounds they fired.

The troopers provided first aid, Coburn said, but Bell’s injuries were fatal.

It was then troopers realized Coburn was not armed, Coburn said. The rifle he allegedly used during the domestic dispute had not been recovered by late Monday.

The troopers who shot Bell were not wearing night vision goggles, Coburn said. Asked whether they had flashlights pointed at Bell in the dark, Coburn said that is under investigation.

State Police declined to identify the troopers. A spokesman said they are on desk duty during the internal investigation. He said that is standard procedure in police-involved shootings.

Bell was involved in several prior domestic disputes, and he had two prior misdemeanor charges against him, State Police said.

At Bell’s home Monday, a woman who identified herself as a family member requested privacy, refusing to speak to the media.

A neighbor who identified himself as an in-law, and a neighbor with knowledge of the family, told NewsChannel 13 Bell was married with at least three children.



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