Deadly police shooting: Where did 19 bullets go?

A photo of a tree with a bullet hole in it near the Regional Transportation Center / photo: Andy Wolf

T he brother of a man gunned down by police at the Regional Transportation Center last month wants to know where 19 bullets went.

Victor Campione, himself a former police officer, takes issue with District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick's claim that the officers were acting in the interest of "public safety" when they opened fire on Benjamin Campione on May 5th.

"19 rounds going all over the place is not public safety." Campione told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon Monday.

Fitzpatrick's remarks came after a Grand Jury found that a Syracuse Police officer and two Onondaga County Sheriff's deputies were justified in their use of deadly force. The Grand Jury determined that Campione was mentally ill, drunk and had cocaine in his system when he was confronted. Benjamin Campione pointed a pellet pistol made to look like a .357 magnum revolver at the officers. The officers fired a total of 23 shots at Campione, hitting him once in the side, twice in the back and once in the buttocks. Fitzpatrick said the incident lasted around five seconds.

Victor Campione visited the shooting scene on Sunday and found a tree with two bullet holes in it. Based on the angle of the bullet holes, Campione says the officers were firing in the direction of an open parking lot, Interstate 81, and Park Street.

As a former police officer and corrections officer, Campione says he's received extensive training on firearms and the use of deadly force. He says one of the first things he was taught was "once you fire that bullet you can't retrieve it." He's especially upset with Sheriff Kevin Walsh who said the number of shots fired was "inconsequential."

Campione says he is not surprised with the Grand Jury finding, but feels there are a number of "unanswered questions."

On Sunday, Campione says he and his daughter placed a cross at the scene where his brother died. The cross is no longer there.