WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The West Seneca police dash cam video tells the story behind a $4.65 million settlement in the shooting and ultimate death of Jeffrey Edwards.
The 46-year-old Buffalo man was unarmed. He was shot twice by a police officer on East and West Road in West Seneca in 2010. Police say someone from inside the car he was driving fired at officers with a high powered rifle.
“By the time the West Seneca police began shooting on the vehicle the gun that was used by the mentally disturbed man was already on the pavement in plain sight,” said Richard Weisbeck, attorney for Edwards.
“Once the police started shooting bullets into the car he feared for his life so he opened up the driver’s side door, crawled out onto the pavement with his hands out stretched to show the police officers that he had no weapon no gun and posed no threat whatsoever to the police,” added Weisbeck, a partner in the Buffalo law firm of Lipsitz, Green, Scime, Cambria.
Edwards was paralyzed from the neck down. He died four years later.
“He was very angry that he was shot and paralyzed,” said Weisbeck. “He felt that he was doing nothing more than aiding a friend and did no wrongdoing.”
At the time, police said a passenger, Jerome Brylski was shooting at them.
“Mr. Brylski from the back of the vehicle was armed with a 33 rifle and started shooting at the officers,” said Edward Gehen, who was the West Seneca police chief at the time.
Officials said Brylski had a history of mental illness and threats against police.
Edward’s lawyer says police mishandled the case
“They failed to understand what the situation was and they used excessive force and they shot an unarmed, innocent man who committed no crime and did no wrongdoing whatsoever,” said Weisbeck.
Police were initially called to Brylski’s home on Leydecker Road by Crisis Services. The man’s attorney had called for help when he threatened to shoot. Police set up a command away from the house. What they didn’t know is that Brylski had called Edwards asking him to bring lunch.
Weisbeck said Edwards picked up Brylski but didn’t know that he had a rifle in the backseat.
Town attorneys note that Edwards had given Brylski the rifle as barter for a truck.
Police followed the car and stopped it on East and West Road. That’s when the police dash board cameras recorded the encounter.
The $4.65 million settlement will be paid for the town’s insurers and does not involve taxpayer funds, said West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan in a statement issued Thursday.
“This was a very unfortunate incident given the injury and death of Mr. Edwards,” she said. “However we were very very blessed that none of our officers were shot when this incident occurred. We are thankful they could return safely to their families.”