September 26, 2023
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Joshua De’Miguel Kavota, who died on June 29, 2022 in Franklin County. Following a thorough investigation, which included review of body-worn camera footage, 911 calls, witness interviews, and evidence from the scene, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the Saranac Lake Police Department (SLPD) officer who shot Mr. Kavota was justified.
On the morning of June 29, 2022, two SLPD officers responded to 911 calls reporting a stabbing on Bloomingdale Avenue in Saranac Lake. When officers arrived, they found Mr. Kavota outside a shop and asked him to remove the knife from his pocket, but Mr. Kavota refused to comply. Mr. Kavota then pulled the knife out of his pocket and charged at one of the officers. The officer fell to the ground and the other officer fired his service weapon at Mr. Kavota. The officers performed first aid until EMS arrived and took Mr. Kavota to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers recovered a knife at the scene.
Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another person. When the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, officers were told that Mr. Kavota had just stabbed an individual and he then charged at an officer with a knife. Under these circumstances, based on the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired was justified, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued against the officer.
New York State Attorney General
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