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Burns Family Filing Civil Suit Against RPD

Family of Brendon Burns (Photo provided by family)

The family of Brendon Burns, who was killed in Rochester's Park Avenue neighborhood, is filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Rochester.

Nate McMurray, the family attorney, released a statement yesterday saying “Brendan Burns was killed by the police, who pursued and fired at him recklessly—by homes, stores, a school—while he was walking with his elderly mother in broad daylight. His family intends to seek justice for his death.”

“Despite being portrayed as a hardened criminal in some press reports, he was not wanted for any murder. He made no threats,” McMurray’s statement reads. “He was a young man in poor mental and physical health, struggling with addiction to prescription drugs, a widespread issue in the United States. Indeed, Brendan was in need of care. Instead, he was chased through the streets like an animal and fired upon from the back repeatedly by a small army of heavily armed police officers, which led to his untimely death.

McMurray says the family is calling for greater compassion, care, and reform within the Rochester Police Department to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The full statement can be read here:

Download PDF • 341KB


Brendon Burns, a 35-year-old Rochester resident, was shot and killed by police officers on March 20 on Barrington Street, following a confrontation, according to authorities.

Body-camera footage of the incident was captured and provided by the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Rochester Police say they were investigating Burns regarding two (separate) shooting incidents. One that occurred in Rochester on March 17 and another in Brighton on March 20. Police said they tried to pull Burns over but he did not stop.

A perimeter was set up around Burns’ home on Milburn Street. Later that afternoon police say they spotted Burns returning home.

Police say they tried to approach him on Vassar Street but Burns pulled out a hunting knife and threatened them.

Rochester Police say they fired at least one shot as Burns ran. There was a police chase that culminated in a backyard on Barrington Street, where police say Burns aimed a shotgun towards them and refused to drop it. Officers shot him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident is being investigated by the Rochester Police Department and the New York State Attorney General's Office, which investigates all police-involved shootings. The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The shooting has sparked outrage in the community, with some residents questioning why deadly force was necessary.

"He didn't have to die," said Burns' cousin, who asked to remain anonymous. "They could have used a Taser or some other non-lethal option."

Others, however, have expressed support for the officers.

"They were just doing their job," said one neighbor who witnessed the incident. "It's a tragedy, but they had no choice."

The incident comes amid heightened scrutiny of police use of force, particularly against people of color; although Burns was not African American.

Burns’ family say they had a small family-only ceremony at their favorite park.


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