It’s taken a year but Steven M. Cohen, the attorney for Rafael “Pito” Rivera, has finally filed a State Supreme Court lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of the defendant’s family. While no monetary amount was mentioned, Mr. Cohen is seeking ‘punitive damages,’ to hopefully ‘motivate’ Buffalo police to prevent officers from engaging in ‘unconstitutional conduct.’

Sometimes you just can’t make this crap up.

September 12th, 2018, just after 0300 hours, a call was made reporting a male with a gun walking around the neighborhood. This call set in motion a series of events that lead to Mr. Rivera killing himself at the officer’s hand. The choices made that night absolutely were the reason for the outcome. Mr. Rivera painted himself in a ‘choose your own adventure’ and made all the wrong choices.

Police responded to a 911 call reporting a man with a gun. While on a canvass, PO Karadshaev observed the defendant run out of a neighboring house, through an empty lot and over a fence. The officer began to pursue him on foot. At some point, the officer observed that Rivera was in possession of a firearm.

The officer continued to pursue Rivera and ordered him to stop and put down the gun. Prosecutors obtained a video from a house on Plymouth Avenue where a security camera showed the two men running past. This was reported by the District Attorney’s Office.

Shortly thereafter, the defendant tripped over a curb while cutting into a driveway and fell to the pavement. While he was down, several officers including PO Karadshaev took up a tactical position around the suspect, taking caution to ensure not to place themselves in a cross-fire situation.


Again, they ordered the defendant to surrender himself. Mr. Rivera made yet another poor choice and resumed his efforts to flee the location. While getting up and trying to scurry like a cornered rat, Mr. Rivera turned slightly towards the officers. It is at this point that PO Karadshaev discharged six rounds from his service weapon, hitting the defendant three times.

The officers carefully approached and cuffed Mr. Rivera. Even though he had been mortally wounded, Mr. Rivera still tried to stop the officers from putting his arms behind his back in what may have been his final act of defiance to the law.

At no point did any officers at the scene, “administer, nor even attempt to administer first aid,” to the wounded Rivera, “until minutes had passed, and after an officer shined his flashlight,” on a security camera, Cohen said in court papers. Mr. Cohen, the family’s attorney is bringing up the fact that the officers didn’t provide aid and, and instead, they handcuffed Mr. Rivera.

According to Cohen, this was sign of their negligence. He then made further claims that they were racist in court papers, stating that Rivera’s ethnicity was a factor in police viewing him as a danger. Karadshaev is, “a light-skinned Caucasian,” while Rivera was a, “dark-skinned Puerto Rican,” the lawsuit says.

Mr. Cohen is hanging his hat on what he claims is the fact that, “For decades, witnesses have reported dark-skinned men running away from police when they were shot, and the police have adamantly denied it. They were believed by judges, juries and the brass of the BPD.”

Cohen made this comment to The Buffalo News, along with the suggestion that if Rivera had been white, “… experience gives me doubt that the outcome would have been as tragic.”




Let’s talk about the true issue here. Allow me an opportunity to break it down and make it absolutely clear on what is going on. Mr. Rivera is a thug, an absolute savage who roams the streets at 3 AM with a loaded firearm, a loaded and unregistered firearm that he, in no way shape or form, has a license to possess.

That would be his first of several poor choices that night.

His second would be whatever it was that led to a 911 call being placed that said he was running around the neighborhood with a gun.

His third poor choice was to run at the sight of the police, which drew attention to him and what he was doing.

This was further highlighted by the evasive maneuvers he took by sprinting through an abandoned lot and leaping a fence in an attempt to evade the officer.


The fourth horrible choice was letting his firearm be seen. It was at that point that the officer was not gonna let him get away. His radio transmission at that point assured it.

Then there is mistake number five that when he fell, Mr. Rivera should have surrendered. The officers had surrounded him and other units were in route. The game was over.

Mr. Rivera however, thought the better choice was to attempt to leap up and run while fidgeting with the front of his sweatshirt. He made a slight turn (most likely just trying to get his footing) towards officers and ultimately killing himself.


Mr. Cohen, allow me for just a moment to enlighten you on a few key points. While I am sure that a man of your background and education is not likely to listen to the advice of someone like me, I hope this will resonate with you.

When dealing with any perpetrator, no matter age, race sex or crime, who has been shot by an officer or even a third party such as a licensed citizen, we always secure the scene first, meaning we handcuff the suspect and scan for a second shooter or co-defendant. This makes no difference as to the department handling the incident.

That is a standard practice.

Just because someone is down does not make them out in regards to a fight. June 15th we saw the perfect example of such an incident in Appleton, Wisconsin. Our duty as police officers ends at the barrel, we are not required to provide emergency care for someone shot and to be honest are not trained to do so.

Those who are trained to do so are called medics and MDs, it’s their job, ours is to radio for an ambulance. Now don’t get me wrong, if equipped with combat dressing or Israeli bandages most officers would try and help the best they could. However, that equipment would be back at the vehicle that PO Karadshaev was forced to leave behind when Mr. Rivera made the shit poor decision to run and evade.


As for your claim of racism, I’ll engage, I’m your huckleberry. Your quote of, “People of color experience gives me doubt that the outcome would have been as tragic.” This is absolutely BS and I doubt your experience to make such a claim.

When it comes to minorities being more likely than whites to be shot and killed in a violent encounter with police, it’s also equally important that it’s more likely for minorities to engage officers in a violent confrontation. If a certain demographic of society chooses to more frequently detest authority, pick violence as their option and holds no regard for their well-being and the safety of others then in fact they will have a higher percentage of negative outcomes.

When one chooses to wage war against the police, they should also choose to accept that the final outcome may be a slug or two to the chest or face. There, in fact, is no tomorrow when you’re playing for your life. Your decision to claim that your client’s kin was killed because he was dark-skinned is misleading and dangerous when you provide a photo of proof and use a deliberate picture heavily shaded to convey a BS made-up claim.



We, as officers, do not show up looking to die, we don’t show up and look to kill. We would rather society figure its own messes out and leave us to deal with real emergencies. However, as long as the animals who prey on society roam free and feel at liberty and emboldened to hunt the good people of our neighborhoods, we will maintain our watch and do our best to stop their reign of terror, by any and all means possible.

Claiming that the officer knew his race or color is inflammatory, to say the least. The officers spent approximately 98% of their time staring at the back of Mr. Rivera as he ran through dimly lit streets. He was running away with at least a 50-foot lead at 3 AM and not an ounce of breaking sunlight. In fact, Mr. Rivera would need to lay there dead for at least two hours before the very first rays of sunlight would have hit him.



Notice how much lighter his hand and left ear look being exposed to room light as compared to his face which is heavily shaded by the brim of his hat. While the family hunts for answers and a paycheck for this tragedy, perhaps they should really be looking to soul search and not cling to an ambulance chaser.

Perhaps you would better serve them by explaining to them the truth is that their loved one took his own life that night by making stupid decisions.

It’s always horrible to lose a loved one. Death itself is always tragic and untimely, it’s sometimes necessary for people to explore their role or involvement in the upbringing of an individual who chooses a lifestyle that ultimately leads to their death.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.



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