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Deputy in Errick Road shooting will not be charged

Fri, Apr 24th 2015 10:55 pm
From left, District Attorney Michael Violante, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour and Capt. James Hall of the New York State Police.
From left, District Attorney Michael Violante, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour and Capt. James Hall of the New York State Police.

Staff report

The deputy who responded to a 911 hang-up call that later turned into a gunfight on Errick Road last week will not be charged, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour announced Friday.

Joe Tortorella, an officer stationed in Wheatfield for many years, became involved in a gunfight with Duane Bores Jr. at the latter's Errick Road residence last week.

During the gunfight, both men were shot. Tortorella's bullet-resistant vest stopped the bullet that hit him. Bores was shot and retreated inside the house, where he died of another, self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The hang-up call came from Bores' parents, whom he had shot before the police were on site.

A standard investigation was begun to determine whether excessive force had been used.

"Deputy Tortorella has a lot of things on his mind, and one of those things on his mind is whether or not he did the right thing," Voutour said. "My job as a sheriff is to take care of my officers. To take care of my officer, I need to give him an answer so he can begin the healing process as quickly as possible, but as accurately as possible."

It was determined by both the sheriff's investigators and District Attorney Michael Violante the shooting was justifiable. Further, the medical examiner's report confirmed wounds Bores sustained from Tortorella's gun were not fatal.

The confidence in the investigators' decision came in part from five surveillance cameras the Bores family had installed around their yard, apparently in response to vandalism.

Voutour and Violante said the footage on those cameras showed exactly what Tortorella reported had happened.

The camera showed Bores had a handgun in each of his back pockets when the deputy confronted him.

Voutour also released more information on the initial verbal interaction between Tortorella and Violante. When Bores exited the house, Tortorella noticed blood on his hand. He asked Bores if he had a weapon several times.

"The response was something to the effect of, 'I'm not sure, I'm not sure, I'm not sure,' " Voutour said.

Motive was also discussed.

The investigation is ongoing, but Violante speculated Bores' intent may have been "suicide by cop." Tortorella told him, at one point before the gunfight, Bores asked him to shoot him in the head.

Voutour reported his office had spoken with a relative of the Bores', who said the relationship between Bores and his parents had been strained recently.

The parents, Duane Sr. and Cynthia Bores, remain in critical condition, intubated and unable to speak, at Erie County Medical Center. They are expected to survive.

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