NY State Trooper Charged With Manslaughter Following High-Speed Chase in 2022

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
June 9, 2023USshare
NY State Trooper Charged With Manslaughter Following High-Speed Chase in 2022
The hands of state trooper Anthony Nigro pointing his firearm as he approaches the overturned car of James Huber, in this photo taken from body cam video recorded in Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2022. (Office of the State Attorney General of New York via AP)

A New York state trooper was charged with manslaughter Monday for shooting an unarmed Pennsylvania man after a car chase in 2022.

Trooper Anthony Nigro pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter at an arraignment in Buffalo, where the killing took place last year. He was released without bail.

The charges are a rare example of a criminal case being brought against an officer by New York’s attorney general.

On Feb. 12, 2022, state troopers first spotted James Huber, a resident of North East, Pennsylvania, speeding on Interstate 90 near Buffalo, driving “erratically,” according to police.

The troopers chased Huber at speeds that topped 100 miles per hour (161 kph), but called off the chase when Huber’s vehicle exited the highway, into the city.

A little later, Nigro, a nearly 16-year veteran of the state police, caught up to Huber on a street in downtown Buffalo and blocked his path with his cruiser.

A fragment of a body camera recording, released by the state attorney’s office, shows Nigro approaching the car as he holds his gun in front of him. He orders Huber repeatedly to get out, cursing. Nigro reaches for the door handle but it seems the door is locked.

The trooper now has his gun inches from the driver’s head; Huber turns away from the trooper and says, “Go away,” and then “Never,” and “Nope” as Nigro continues to order him to get out of the car. When Huber puts his hand on the car’s shifter, Nigro grabs the hood of Huber’s sweatshirt. The car backs up in reverse—two shots are fired, the trooper is thrown to the ground, and the car is heard crashing on a parking ramp, toppling over.

All of this happened within a few seconds.

Huber died of gunshot wounds at the scene. His death was investigated by Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, whose office brought the charges.

New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association President Charles Murphy said in a statement that Nigro should not have faced criminal charges. He said Huber’s dangerous driving “threatened the safety of innocent motorists.”

“Our understanding and review of the facts in this case confirm that, while the outcome was tragic, Trooper Nigro’s actions were in accordance with his training and the law, and that he was justified in his use of force,” Murphy said.

Around the same time, Nigro’s attorney Daniel Strollo criticized the attorney general for not waiting until after the investigation was complete to release the video, and for not providing more information to the public about what led up to the incident.

“All they did was release this video that some would perceive as being inflammatory if you don’t watch it carefully. If you don’t understand what happens before the body camera is activated,” Strollo told Spectrum News.

“They released this video without much context. It serves no legitimate purpose other than to further the attorney general’s political agenda to get attention. To show that she’s going after cops,” he added.

“You see this individual continue to disobey commands as he was doing on the Thruway when he was leading police on a chase. You see him reach into the vehicle. When people disobey commands and reach into the vehicle, those hands usually kill later.”

Legal expert John Elmore, a former state trooper, agreed that it’s difficult to assess an incident based off a fragment, though he did have some criticism of Nigro’s tactics, putting his gun right up to Huber’s body.

“If you’re close to somebody, you would keep the gun close to your body to protect that person from grabbing it and taking a gun from you,” Elmore told WIVB in March last year.

Manslaughter in the First Degree is a Class B violent felony and carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

The state police said in a statement that the department has cooperated with the attorney general’s investigation and will continue to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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