A man who pulled a knife inside a New York City deli as police officers were stopping in to get breakfast was armed with only a plastic bottle when police shot him outside, officer body camera footage released Tuesday shows.
Two officers fired a total of two shots at Peyman Bahadoran, 55, striking him in the arm and back, after police said he reached to his empty knife sheath and lunged at an officer outside Healthy Green Gourmet in Manhattan on June 4.
Security video shows that a deli clerk snatched the 12-inch hunting knife from the counter and handed it to an officer after Bahadoran put it down to pick up a pack of cigarettes. His other hand was occupied by a dog leash.
Bahadoran, a former Wall Street trader who says he was having a psychological episode, is then seen on video leaving the deli and shoving another officer, Jillian Suarez, toward the street as she pointed her gun at him. Body camera footage shows him holding a bottle of water.
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Moments later, Suarez and an officer responding to a call for backup, Bryan Rozanski, opened fire, according to video posted online by the police department.
“The body camera footage shows clearly that Mr. Bahadoran was unarmed when shot,” said Bahadoran's lawyer, Earl Ward. “It further disproves the claim by the department that he was ‘reaching’ and ‘lunging.’ He posed no deadly risk and now there’s a bullet lodged in his spine and he may never walk again."
Bahadoran is out on bail while awaiting trial on charges including attempted robbery and menacing a police officer. He told the Daily News last month that he suffers from a bipolar condition and was agitated by ongoing protests in the city over the May 25 Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
“I was manic, paranoid, scared, anxious,” Bahadoran told the newspaper. “You are watching everything. You are doing things that are not normal.”
Police were sensitive to threats at the time, not only because of the sometimes unruly demonstrations, but because an officer had been stabbed just hours earlier in Brooklyn.
Security video from inside and outside the deli was included with the police department’s release of the officers’ body camera video.
It shows Bahadoran walking a dog and following two officers into the deli around 6:40 a.m., shouting at one of them and pulling a 12-inch hunting knife from the sheath on his leg.
Bahadoran is then seen holding the knife over his head and marching toward one of the officers, Melissa Brown, while her partner, Suarez, makes a radio call for backup. Bahadoran then goes to the counter, waves the knife at the clerk and demanding the pack of cigarettes — an exchange that allowed the quick-thinking clerk to disarm him.
Suarez, standing at the door, had tried to subdue Bahadoran with a stun gun, but the barbs never reached him.
The police department's initial narrative of the incident did not mention that the clerk was able to get the knife away from Bahadoran. Police said the officers who shot him as he reached for the sheath were not aware that he left the weapon behind.
While the NYPD maintains that all officers have been equipped with body cameras, only Suarez and one officer responding to the back-up call had them. Brown, Rozanski and the lieutenant Bahadoran was seen lunging toward did not have them, police said.