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Onondaga County Grand Jury Finds Syracuse Officers Were Justified in Fatal Shooting of Armed Suspect

Syracuse Police

An Onondaga County grand jury has found that two Syracuse Police officers who returned fire and killed an armed man last month were justified in their actions.  County DA Bill Fitzpatrick says 911 calls came in for a man with a gun near the Sunoco station on North State Street after midnight September 4th.


He says 33-year-old Steven Smith hid behind dumpsters and refused to drop his weapon.  Fitzpatrick explains what happened next using officer body cam footage, which contains sounds of gunfire.

“At 12:49 and 54 seconds a.m., the first shot is discharged from Mr. Smith’s handgun. There is no return fire from the police. 21 seconds later he discharges the second shot from his handgun, and 2 seconds later Sgt. Wells discharges 10 shots at Mr. Smith.” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick says Smith fired a third shot, then is seen extending his gun toward Sgt. Jason Wells, who returns fire again, along with Officer Kenneth Sheehan.  The DA says he broke protocol and met with Smith’s family members a few weeks ago with body camera footage to dispel previous notions about what happened.  

Credit Syracuse Police
Dumpster at Sunoco Gas Station

“It was sobering because we hear things ‘he wasn’t armed’ well he was. ‘Well he didn’t fire first’ well he certainly did. ‘His gun was empty’ no it wasn’t. Whatever motivated Mr. Smith, he took that with him to his grave but criticism directed at these officers would be grossly misplaced. They saved somebody’s life that night and sadly had to take a life to do that.”  said Fitzpatrick.

Autopsy results show Smith had extremely high levels of PCP, as well as CBD in his system. He died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds. 


Credit Onondaga County DA's office