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Body cam footage of Barrington Street shooting video released

Brendon Burns, 35, was fatally shot by Rochester police and Monroe County Sheriff deputies following a foot chase in the Park Avenue neighborhood.
Brendon Burns, 35, was fatally shot by Rochester police and Monroe County Sheriff deputies following a foot chase in the Park Avenue neighborhood.

The Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office have released body-worn camera footage of a recent fatal police shooting that occurred on Barrington Street.

Three deputies and two officers fired shots at Brendon Burns, 35, after a foot chase. The law enforcement agencies identified them as RPD Sgt. Kevin Leckinger and Officer William Baker, and deputies Sgt. Christian DeVinney, Clayton Hillegeer, and Alexandra Baker.

Burns was fatally shot in the backyard of a home on Barrington Street on the morning of March 20 after a pursuit through the neighborhood by sheriff’s deputies and Rochester police officers. Police alleged that Burns fired shots into a smoke shop on Monroe Avenue the previous evening, fired shots at a truck on Monroe Avenue during a road rage incident the following morning, and afterward led officers in a high-speed chase on Interstate 490.

The Sheriff’s Office video begins with surveillance footage of Burns being chased on foot by a deputy on Vassar Street. During the chase, Burns turns back to look at the officer and pulls an object from his pocket, which police said was a knife. The deputy fires two shots at Burns, who runs past an unmarked police car occupied by another deputy, who jumps out and fires two more shots.

Burns continues to run with multiple deputies and RPD officers following him. He reaches a silver car in a driveway and retrieves a black duffel bag from the back seat and continues through a backyard. A deputy dressed in tactical gear with a tactical rifle repeatedly yells at Burns to put his hands up.

As Burns makes his way through another yard, the same deputy can be heard trying to negotiate with Burns.

“Listen to me buddy, what’s your name?” the deputy said. “We just want to talk to you, OK? We just want to talk to you.”

Burns continues walking into a backyard and drops the duffle bag he’s carrying and begins to dig around in it, pulling out a break-action long gun. Deputies repeatedly yell at him not to pick it up, with the deputy in tactical gear repeating, “I will shoot you.”

Burns slowly picks up the shotgun, closes the barrel and raises it. At that point, the officers and deputies begin firing.

The Rochester Police Department video begins at this moment. The officer arrives just as Burns is being shot. Neither Leckinger nor Baker were wearing cameras at the time of the shooting.

Release of the edited body-worn camera video came in separate statements from the city and county, emailed just before 4:30 p.m. Friday.

WXXI filed open records requests after the shooting, seeking police reports and unedited body-worn camera footage. Requests were filed with the city, Monroe County and Brighton. The city has not responded. Monroe County and Brighton denied the requests in full – Monroe County doing so last Friday, Brighton this past Monday – both citing the ongoing investigation.

In their statements Friday, authorities noted that those investigations are still ongoing at the local and state level.

“The loss of any life is tragic and we are committed to being as transparent as possible,” a statement from the Rochester Police Department reads. “This video release is the next step of transparency to show our community the actions of our officers during this incident.”

The Sheriff’s Office’s statement offered sympathies to Burns’ family, and backed the actions of the deputies.

“Many factors contributed to split-second decisions made by deputies and officers engaged in the pursuit of a violent suspect,” Sheriff Todd Baxter said in the statement. “I stand with my deputies and the decisions they made.”

Includes reporting by staff writer Brian Sharp.

Gino Fanelli is an investigative reporter who also covers City Hall. He joined the staff in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.
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