Military honors for man killed in police confrontation

Pall bearers carry the coffin of Benjamin Campione Thursday morning / photo: Brian Erb

Funeral services were held Thursday for Benjamin Campione, the mentally disturbed man who was killed last week while pointing a pellet pistol at police.

Family members say they want Campione to be remembered as a man who served his country, but suffered from mental illness which led to a tragic death.

At Assumption Cemetery in Syracuse, Campione was laid to rest in a flag-draped coffin with military honors as about 50 friends and family members looked on. According to his obituary, Campione was a medic with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. His family says he was also a green beret, who was medically discharged in the mid 1980s due to his mental illness.

On May 5th, police responded to a complaint of an armed and intoxicated man and confronted Campione in the parking lot of the Regional Transportation Center. Authorities say Campione pulled a pellet gun, made to look like a .357 caliber revolver, from his waistband, took a crouching stance, and pointed the gun at a Syracuse police officer. That officer and two Sheriff's deputies opened fire on Campione, killing him.

Police say Campione has had run-ins with the law in the past and suffers from schizophrenia.

Though the investigation into the incident continues, Police Chief Frank Fowler says the officers were justified in thier actions.