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NYCLU says footage showing deputy shooting teens is "tragic and troubling"

A man in a black sheriff's uniform stands behind a lectern
Scott Willis
Sheriff Toby Shelley speaks to the media the day a deputy shot and killed two teens Sept. 6, 2023.

The New York Civil Liberties Union says an Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputy needlessly escalated to fatal force when he shot and killed two Syracuse teenagers last week. 

The state attorney general Tuesday released a video obtained from a neighboring home as part of its investigation. [Warning: The video contains imagery that viewers may find disturbing.] In a release, AG Letitia James says her office is making the video public in order to increase transparency. She also says the release is "not an expression of any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of any party in a criminal matter or any opinion as to how or whether any individual may be charged with a crime."

The video shows deputy John Rosello pulling up bumper to bumper with the suspects stolen car in a small parking lot in Midler Meadows Mobile Home Park in DeWitt and getting out of his car. As the teens' car backs up and begins to pull forward toward the deputy, he begins firing at the teens. It all happens within six seconds.

Seventeen-year-old Dhal Apet and 15-year-old Lueth Mo died moments later. Neither was driving the vehicle. The driver escaped. The NYCLU says it welcomes the attorney general’s investigation, which is required per state law for officer involved shootings. But the organization also wants the AG to review the sheriff’s excessive force policy, and the Rosello’s failure to turn on a body worn camera.

Sheriff Toby Shelley has said the deputy had no option but to use excessive force as the suspects appeared to try and run him over. In a statement released Tuesday, he says he supports Rosello and his actions.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at