PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — The girlfriend of a man shot and killed by a Pittsfield Police officer is demanding answers. She says the police are misrepresenting part of the story, and she questions the use of deadly force.
Those who knew and worked with Miguel Estrella called him hardworking, kind and generous. But after an encounter with police, the 22-year-old’s life came to an abrupt and tragic end.
The night he was shot and killed, Miguel’s girlfriend, Daneya Falwell, says he was in crisis. She says he struggled with mental illness and was drinking and cutting himself with a knife. A concerned friend called 911 and Daneya says two Pittsfield Police officers responded to her apartment building.
“You know, the police started talking to him with the ambulance [first responders]. Told him to give them the knife. And they told me they are supposed to forcefully take him into custody, and they didn’t, that they are not going to. That they are going to leave him in my care,” she said.
She says Miguel refused medical treatment but handed over the knife. She says the officers left him in her care. But minutes later, when Miguel grabbed another knife, she called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
But she says, instead of EMTs, it was the police who responded. She wonders why they didn’t ask for the knife back again.
“They could have been, ‘Could you just hand it [the knife] over?’ like they did the first time.”
The account of what happened next, according to Pittsfield Police, is that with the knife still in his hand, Miguel advanced on the officers. They deployed a taser twice. And when that wasn’t successful in subduing Miguel, they say one officer pulled out his weapon and fired two shots.
Daneya captured the chaotic moments after the shooting with her cellphone. You can hear her begging for help, and then a man’s voice asking for an ambulance.
As for the Pittsfield Police, they are referring all questions about the shooting to the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, who say a unit with the state police is investigating. They say the Pittsfield Police do not use body cameras or have in-car cameras. They do have a unit to respond to subjects who are in crisis and to de-escalate the situation. But Daneya says no one like that was there.
Daneya is concerned that by investigating one of their own, the police may not be impartial.
Pittsfield Police say they are not releasing the names of the officers involved until a preliminary investigation is complete.