A state trooper was charged by the New York attorney general’s office on Monday with killing an unarmed man in downtown Buffalo by fatally shooting him after a high-speed highway chase.
The trooper, Anthony Nigro IV, a 15-year State Police veteran, was charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of James Huber, 38, on Feb. 12, 2022, the attorney general, Letitia James, said in a news release.
Trooper Nigro, 39, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in Erie County Supreme Court, Ms. James said. Justice M. William Boller, rejecting prosecutors’ request that bail be set at $250,000, released Trooper Nigro on his own recognizance. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of first-degree manslaughter, Ms. James said.
Charles W. Murphy, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, said that Trooper Nigro should not have been criminally charged and “was justified in his use of force” and that Mr. Huber’s “dangerous actions” had “threatened the safety of innocent motorists on the Thruway and in the city of Buffalo.”
Andrew Quinn, a lawyer for Trooper Nigro, declined to comment further.
A State Police spokeswoman said the agency had cooperated with the attorney general’s office throughout the investigation and would continue to do so.
The events that preceded the fatal shooting began with New York State troopers chasing Mr. Huber after seeing him speeding and driving erratically on Interstate 90 near Buffalo, Ms. James said. The State Police said at the time that Mr. Huber was going more than 100 miles per hour, The Buffalo News reported.
Troopers called off the pursuit when Mr. Huber left the highway, Ms. James said. A short time later, she said, Mr. Huber stopped his car near the intersection of Washington and East Eagle Streets in Buffalo and Trooper Nigro stopped as well.
At that point, as shown in footage captured by Trooper Nigro’s body camera and released by the attorney general’s office as part of its investigation, the trooper got out of his vehicle and approached the tan sedan that Mr. Huber, of North East, Pa., was driving.
The interaction that followed lasted only about 10 seconds. (Other footage released by Ms. James’s office shows the inside of Trooper Nigro’s car with him at the wheel during the chase.)
The body-camera footage shows Trooper Nigro walking toward Mr. Huber’s car, his right arm extended, with his gun pointed at Mr. Huber. He orders Mr. Huber to get out of the car, using a vulgarity for emphasis. Mr. Huber responds by mumbling something and does not move.
“Get out! Get out!” Trooper Nigro continues, his gun still aimed at Mr. Huber.
“Go away,” Mr. Huber says.
“Get out!” the trooper repeats.
“No,” Mr. Huber says. He turns away from Trooper Nigro and reaches his right hand toward the car’s center console. “Nope.”
Continuing to insist that Mr. Huber “get out,” the trooper reaches into the car, grabs the hood of Mr. Huber’s sweatshirt with one hand and holds his gun near the back of Mr. Huber’s head with the other.
“Get the —,” he says once more before firing twice and then appearing to fall down. Mr. Huber’s car appears to speed backward, and a few seconds later, a loud noise can be heard — the sound of the car crashing and landing on its side.
Mr. Huber was pronounced dead at the scene. He was unarmed, Ms. James said.
The attorney’s general’s Office of Special Investigation is prosecuting the case under a 2015 executive order that gives it the authority to examine any incident where a police officer may have caused the death of a civilian.
The case announced against Trooper Nigro on Monday makes him the second member of the State Police to be criminally charged in recent years as a result of a highway-chase-related death.
Trooper Christopher Baldner is awaiting trial on manslaughter and other charges in the December 2020 death of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl. He is accused of ramming her family’s minivan during a high-speed pursuit near Kingston, N.Y., causing it to crash.
Trooper Baldner was originally indicted on a second-degree murder charge. A judge dismissed the murder count in February, and Ms. James’s office is pursuing an appeal to have it reinstated.