Prosecutors have not yet ruled out whether criminal charges will be lodged against a Rochester-area police officer who shot and killed his son in an Old Forge motel over the weekend.
The off-duty officer, Michael Leach, 59, of the Perry Village Police Department, reportedly shot his son, Matthew Leach, 37, after mistaking him for an intruder inside their Clarks Beach Motel room shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday, troopers said.
Herkimer County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter, however, has said investigators have not yet finished looking into all the circumstances surrounding the deadly shooting.
“I need to see the preliminary reports, and the investigation is ongoing,” Carpenter said. “Once we have enough information in place, we will sit down and analyze which way we are going to proceed in this case.”
That means the decision whether charges will apply may be left in the hands of Carpenter, the state police and a grand jury.
Michael Leach remained in a Utica hospital to be treated for a medical issue after the incident, so investigators have not yet spoken with him, Carpenter said.
A preliminary investigation indicates Matthew Leach was shot once near the doorway immediately after entering the room, and that his father might have been sleeping before he was unexpectedly woken up, Carpenter said.
It remains unclear, however, whether Michael Leach attempted to say anything to his son before firing his police department-issued .45-caliber Glock handgun, Carpenter said.
It also is not yet known whether either Michael or Matthew Leach had been drinking alcohol prior to the shooting, and whether that was a factor in what happened.
Carpenter said he doesn’t consider this an “accidental” shooting due to the facts of what happened, and that this case is more complicated than simply saying someone is justified in shooting a person they believe to be an intruder.
“Anytime there’s a deadly use of force, there’s a subjective analysis as to what the shooter believed at the time, and then there’s an objective analysis as to whether that belief was reasonable considering all the surrounding circumstances,” Carpenter said.