SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A coalition of community groups, including the leader of the Greater Springfield NAACP, is calling for a neutral party to investigate the deadly shooting of 23 year-old Orlando Taylor by a Springfield police officer.
The incident happened Sunday morning on Genesee Street in the city’s Liberty Heights neighborhood. Springfield police say Taylor stabbed the officer in the face, causing serious injuries. The officer opened fire after Taylor allegedly attempted to charge at police again.
In a statement sent to 22News, the community groups are calling for the immediate release of police bodycam footage of the incident. They are also calling for a neutral investigator, outside the police department, to determine whether the use of force was justified. Finally, they want Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to stop making public statements expressing their belief that the shooting was justified; saying that doing so is prejudicial to the investigation and insulting to Taylor’s family, and the community at large.
“The seriousness of police-involved shootings cannot be overstated. The reputation and often the career of involved police officers often depends on whether a full and accurate determination is made of the circumstances that precipitated the event and the manner in which it unfolded,” the statement reads. “The police involved shooting of Orlando Taylor has raised many questions regarding how police respond to incidents involving persons with well known and documented histories of mental health illness.”
The statement was signed by Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, the Rev. David Lewis, president of the Pioneer Valley Project, and Trisha Arena, the executive director of ARISE for Social Justice, as well as by the Springfield chapter of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Springfield No One Leaves, and M.O.R.E.