The New York Police Department should stop arresting people for minor offenses during traffic stops to avoid incidents like the fatal 2019 police-involved shooting of a motorist, the state's attorney general said, according to a report.
The report prepared by AG Letitia James' Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit said the NYPD should move away from non-criminal traffic stops since they can escalate into violent confrontations.
The recommendation was made after officials analyzed the death of Allan Feliz, 31, who was shot by Sgt. Jonathan Rivera during an October 2019 traffic stop.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James addresses the media during a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
Rivera pulled Feliz over for, suspecting him of not wearing a seatbelt in the Bronx. When officers asked him for identification, Feliz handed over his brother's license. The brother had three open warrants for minor offenses — spitting, littering and disorderly conduct.
Feliz was asked to step out of the vehicle and did so, but then stepped back in apparently to drive away. Another officer grabbed Feliz and attempted to pull him out, according to the report. Rivera fired a stun gun into his chest, but that failed to incapacitate him.
At some point during a struggle, the vehicle lunged forward and Rivera fired his weapon, the report said. Feliz was hit and taken to a hospital where he later died. A search of Feliz's car after his death yielded small amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine.
James' office determined Rivera's actions were justified, but recommended the NYPD direct officers to stop arresting motorists for open warrants for minor offenses to prevent similar occurrences. The New York City Police Benevolent Association did not respond to a Fox News request for comment.
"The vast majority of traffic stops – including this one – do not involve criminal conduct, yet often end in violence," the report states.
The report also highlighted studies demonstrating disparities in the use of force during traffic stops involving Black and Latino men.