Could the Buffalo Shooting Have Been Stopped Sooner?

Crisis occurs. In most serious cases, the first step in the presence of such danger, an emergency, or a catastrophe is to dial 911. As the procedure goes, there is a dispatcher on the other end of such call to provide guidance or assistance, specific to the coordinating need(s). This dispatcher essentially could withhold the power behind a matter of life, or death.

With this in mind, how would you react if this potentially life determining phone call was interrupted by the words, “Why are you whispering”?

On May 14th, 2022, a supermarket, “Tops Friendly Market”, in east Buffalo, New York joined the protracted list of locations in which a racially targeted massacre has occurred within the United States. As the strategically planned mass shooting took the lives of 10 people- with almost all (11 out of the 13) of them being identified as Black- this shooting has been identified as one of the deadliest racist massacres in our countries more recent history.

The gunman and evident suspect was identified to be the New York native 18 year-old, Payton S. Gendron. Gendron conspicuously manifested this attack to be done with racist hate, as he allegedly wrote a white supremacist publication online prior to the killings stating that other racially motivated massacres inspired his violent actions; planned his 200 mile travel in order to execute his plans; flashed an anti-Black racial slur on the barrel of his weapon in the face of his victims; and live streamed the conspicuous onslaught for all to see.

The worker at the supermarkets front service desk at the time of the shooting, Latisha Rogers, took out her personal cellphone to call 911 after repeatedly hearing a “large boom”. After Ms. Rogers quietly pleaded for help, at the discretion of this dispatcher, the only response that she received from the dispatcher was, “‘What? I can’t hear you, why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you”– leading the young Tops worker to hang up the phone, in fear of being heard. This dispatcher has been since been put on administrative leave and under investigation, according to Erie County Officials, as there was ample evidence that this response was inappropriate and against all training and protocol.

Although Payton Gendron is now being held without bail and is set to be prosecuted for his unfathomable racist and violent actions, and while there has been a date set for the hearing of the dispatcher in regards to her termination of employment- it is difficult not to wonder if this dehumanizing massacre could have been ceased more promptly, had this phone call been answered by a different dispatcher. It is vital that Congress rapidly addresses the United States frightening rise in violent white nationalism, and the need for immense reform in legislation- specifically regarding the possession of assault weaponry.

This blog post is part of the CIMA Law Group blog. If you are located in Arizona and are seeking legal services, CIMA Law Group specializes in Immigration Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Government Relations.


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