PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — The girlfriend of a man shot and killed by a Pittsfield Police officer is demanding answers. She said the police are misrepresenting part of the story, and she questioned their 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, Estrella’s girlfriend, Daneya Falwell, said he was in crisis. She said he struggled with mental illness and was drinking and cutting himself with a knife. A concerned friend called 911, and Daneya said two Pittsfield Police officers responded to her apartment building.
“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,” Falwell said.
She said Estrella refused medical treatment, but handed over the knife. She said the officers left him in her care. But minutes later, when he grabbed another knife, she called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. But Falwell said that police responded instead of EMTs.
She wondered why they didn’t ask for the knife back again. “They could have been, ‘Could you just hand it over?'” Falwell said. “Like they did the first time.”
The account of what happened next, according to Pittsfield Police, is that, knife still in hand, Estrella advanced on the officers. They deployed a taser twice, which failed to subdue him. Police said an officer then drew his weapon and shot twice.
Falwell captured the chaotic moments after the shooting with her cellphone. You can hear her begging for help before a man’s voice asks for an ambulance.
As for Pittsfield Police, they are not releasing the names of the officers involved until a preliminary investigation is complete. They referred all questions about the shooting to the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, who in turn said that a unit with the state police is investigating. They said that the police department does not use body cams or have in-car cameras.
The District Attorney’s office said that the police department has a unit to respond to subjects who are in crisis and deescalate the situation. Yet Falwell said that no one like that was there when Estrella was shot. She also said she is concerned that police may not be impartial when investigating one of their own.