Grand Jury clears officers in May fatal police shooting

Benjamin Campione / file photo

An Onondaga County Grand Jury has ruled that the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man near the Regional Market last month were justified in the use of deadly force.

On May 5, 55-year-old Benjamin Campione of Syracuse entered the Market Diner on Park Street and was, according to witnesses, acting erratically and displaying a handgun. When police arrived, they say Campione drew the pistol on them, which was later found to be a pellet gun he had bought earlier that day.

The three policemen - two sheriff TMs deputies and a city officer - fired upon Campione and hit him four times. He was pronounced dead at Upstate University Hospital.

The Onondaga County District Attorney TMs Office says that the Grand Jury cleared the officers after hearing testimony about Campione TMs mental history. The DA TMs Office says Campione had stopped taking medication for his mental illness, and had alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of his death.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick pointed out Wednesday that the officers fired 23 rounds during the incident, and there is a belief that Campione may have fired his pellet pistol.

Fitzpatrick confirms to CNY Central TMs Jim Kenyon that Campione was shot once in the side, twice in the back, and once in the buttocks. Fitzpatrick says it would appear Campione may have been spun around during the shooting incident, which would account for the rear entry wounds.

There was some talk after the incident by Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler that this could have been a case of ~suicide by cop TM. Fitzpatrick says neither he, nor the medical examiner, would use that term. Campione's brother also dismissed that notion during an interview with CNY Central two weeks ago.

Fitzpatrick says there is no way of knowing what was going through Campione TMs mind at the time.

The DA TMs Office says it concluded that the officers had acted within their training, and were justified in their actions.