Springfield, MA – The family of a suspect who was fatally shot by Springfield police after stabbing an officer in the face has denied he was a criminal and claimed he was killed because he was black.
“We want justice. We want accountability,” Black Liberation Alliance for Change leader Charles Stokes said during a press conference outside 23-year-old Orlando Taylor’s home on Monday, according to MassLive. “He wasn’t a thug; he wasn’t a criminal. He was a good, young man…This was a wanton disrespect of life.”
Stokes was flanked by members of Taylor’s family during his address.
“If this was a white person, this would not have happened. I know it,” declared Orlando Taylor’s grandmother, Earlene Taylor. “I mean, tell it the way it is and that’s exactly what it is.”
The incident occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 9, after Springfield police received a report that a man had pulled a knife on a victim in the area of Cass Street and Liberty Street, WWLP reported.
Officers responded to the area and spotted the suspect in the 100-block of Genesee Street, Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said, according to WGGB.
He was later identified as Orlando Taylor.
Police repeatedly ordered the suspect to drop his knife, but he refused, Commissioner Clapprood said.
Orlando Taylor allegedly stabbed one of the officers in the face, then charged at the officers again with the knife gripped in his hand, according to WGGB.
That’s when the officer he stabbed fired two shots at him, Commissioner Clapprood said.
Officers rendered first aid to the suspect before he was transported to Baystate Medical Center, WGGB reported.
Orlando Taylor died from his wounds at the hospital.
The officer he allegedly stabbed suffered severe injuries and was also transported to Baystate Medical Center, WWLP reported.
He was later released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
Springfield Police Department (SPD) Spokesperson Ryan Walsh said the injured officer is a military veteran who has been with the SPD for nine years, WWLP reported.
He has received numerous awards for life-saving measures in the past.
“We are extremely lucky today that we are not here to discuss a police officer killed in the line of duty,” Commissioner Clapprood said, according to KXXV.
She commended police for how they handled the harrowing encounter, WWLP reported.
“No officer wants to be involved in this situation,” she said. “Nobody comes into work expecting at 8:30 in the morning on a Sunday, rainy, icy morning that you’re gonna be involved in this, but I am so proud of both officers and all the officers who responded.”
The commissioner noted they all “acted professionally” and “did as they were trained.”
Commissioner Clapprood said the incident was captured by the bodycams of the two officers involved.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he watched the footage and that he believes the officers responded appropriately to the attack, KXXV reported.
“In my eyes, unfortunately, it was justified,” Sarno said. “Deadly force was used against one of our officers and in turn the officer, unfortunately, had to use deadly force to keep other individuals from being hurt and or murdered.”
Orlando Taylor’s family blasted the mayor for backing the officers’ actions, MassLive reported.
“The gall to say that this was a justifiable shooting when all the facts have not been brought to the table,” Stokes scoffed.
Earlene Taylor told MassLive her grandson suffered from mental illness and that she told police not to shoot him.
Although Orlando Taylor was allegedly armed with a knife and stabbed an officer in the face, Earlene Taylor argued the officers had no reason to use deadly force against him.
“I pleaded with the police officer not to shoot my grandson, not to shoot him because he has mental illness,” she told MassLive. “I don’t understand why they had to shoot him.”
Earlene Taylor said she was standing out on the porch when the fatal encounter occurred.
Instead of opening fire, the wounded officer should have backed away and called for more help or used his Taser, she opined.
“I saw them shoot him twice. He did not deserve it,” Earlene Taylor insisted to MassLive. “He did not deserve it.”
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, as per protocol, WWLP reported.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office will determine whether or not any criminal charges will be filed.