AG’s office investigates death of Wardel Davis

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has taken over the investigation into the death of Wardel Davis, an unarmed man who died after a scuffle with Buffalo Police.

Press Secretary for the AG’s office, Amy Spitalnick, released the following statement Thursday:

“The Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit has opened an investigation into the death of Wardel Davis, pursuant to the Attorney General’s authority under Executive Order No. 147. Our office is committed to conducting a fair, comprehensive, and independent investigation to provide Mr. Davis’ family with the answers they deserve. We encourage anyone with relevant information to contact our Buffalo office.”

Wardel was pronounced dead early Wednesday morning at Buffalo General Hospital. Prior to that, he was stopped by Officers Todd McAlister and Nicholas Parisi near Hoyt and Arnold around midnight Tuesday.

City records show McAlister joined the force in 2013; prior to that he worked as a legislative assistant in the Buffalo Common Council.

Officer Parisi has been on the force about ten years.

According to Thomas Burton, attorney for McAlister, Davis was exiting a house in the area known for drug activity.

“They wanted to talk to him to find out what he was up to. They went to ask him to keep his hands out of his pockets and where the officers could see them. He swung his hand, took off down the street,” Burton told News 4.

According to investigators, the officers chased Davis down and a scuffle began. During the course of that fight, Davis suffered from medical distress, police said.

Burton called the incident a “violent struggle.” He said the moment the officers realized Davis was in distress, they removed the handcuffs and began CPR.

An ambulance was called, and Davis was transported to Buffalo General where he was pronounced dead.

Police told News 4 no weapons were discharged during the incident.

“Y’all not about to just tell me that he stopped breathing, that don’t make no sense, he’s 20 years old,” said Davis’ girlfriend of a year-and-a-half, Jashalyn Washington.

Davis, who neighbors told us volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club, was scheduled to appear in Buffalo City Court Wednesday morning on misdemeanor drug charges.

“We picked up his case in November. He had made several court appearance, six or seven by our count. He had always been there, he had not missed appearances as far as I can tell, no warrants were issued,” said Chief Attorney of the Criminal Defense Unit at the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Kevin Stadelmaier.

Officers McAlister and Parisi both have clean records with the department, and are on paid administrative leave while this case is investigated.

“We just want to know what happened to him,” Washington said.

Staff from the AG’s office was at the crime scene with local law enforcement, and asserted their jurisdiction over the case Wednesday night. The AG’s office will now determine if any charges with be brought.

The Buffalo Police Department will continue its own Internal Affairs investigation.

An autopsy was performed on Davis Wednesday morning. Th AG’s office will release initial findings and toxicology results after its investigation is complete, which will take at least a month.

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