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Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Wesley Soper

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Wesley Soper in Perinton, Monroe County. Following a thorough investigation, including review of physical evidence, photographs, crash reconstruction analysis, body-worn camera (BWC) footage, and video surveillance footage, OSI concluded that criminal charges are not warranted for the deputy involved in this case.

On December 17, 2021, at about 2:30 a.m., a deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) was driving west in his patrol car on Pittsford-Palmyra Road. When he approached the intersection where Pittsford-Palmyra Road meets Moseley Road, the deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle stopped by the drive-up ATM at a bank ahead and to his right. While glancing at the other vehicle, the deputy struck Mr. Soper, who was walking north in the intersection. The deputy, other responding members of the MCSO, and members of Perinton Ambulance performed life saving measures at the scene, but Mr. Soper was pronounced dead at Strong Memorial Hospital at 3:10 a.m.

Based on analysis of video surveillance footage, New York State Department of Transportation timing tables, and crash reconstruction, the deputy appears to have been driving four to 12 miles above the 45 mph speed limit but otherwise obeying the rules of the road: he had the green light and was within his lane when he struck Mr. Soper. Evidence shows that Mr. Soper was wearing dark clothing and headphones, walked into the intersection against the light, and did not pause to activate the crosswalk control signal.

In an interview with OSI, the deputy said he was paying attention to the suspicious parked car and did not see Mr. Soper, who was dressed in dark clothing at night, until he felt his patrol car hit something, at which point he immediately stopped his car and got out.

Responding members of MCSO brought the deputy to MCSO headquarters and administered a preliminary alcohol screening test, which was negative. Review of the deputy’s cell phone showed no incoming or outgoing phone calls or text messages around the time of the collision.

Under New York law, proving criminally negligent homicide requires evidence that a person failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would occur and that the failure to perceive the risk was a gross deviation from a reasonable person’s standard of care. Under case law in New York, the deputy’s speeding in this case was not by itself sufficient to be considered criminally negligent, and he did not engage in any other risky or blameworthy behavior. Therefore, OSI concluded that criminal charges are not warranted for the deputy involved in this case.

The deputy was equipped with a BWC, which he turned on when he got out of his car. This footage was helpful in the investigation of the matter, but it did not capture the incident itself. MCSO is the primary law enforcement agency for several suburban and rural areas of Monroe County, and members of MCSO often drive on sparsely populated or poorly lighted roads. OSI therefore recommends that MCSO implement a dashboard camera program and equip all patrol cars with dashboard cameras.