Stony Brook professor faces criticism for questioning use of deadly force after stabbings of 2 Suffolk officers
A Stony Brook University professor is receiving backlash for comments questioning why the man accused of stabbing two police officers in Medford had to be killed.
Professor Anna Hayward commented on Stony Brook Medicine's Instagram post about the incident. "This was a wellness check - why didn't they de-escalate the situation? Why did a man have to die," she wrote. "What about the man they murdered?"
The professor's comments came just a day after Suffolk County police say two of their officers were stabbed while responding to a wellness check. The incident ended when an officer fired four rounds killing the suspect, Enrique Lopez, who allegedly stabbed the officers.
Members of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association were upset with the professor's comments.
Louis Civello, second vice president of the Suffolk PBA, says he was outraged because the professor called the incident a murder.
"There are some situations for instance, this one, where an individual is plunging a knife into the neck of a police officer where you can't deescalate and you have to take action," Civello said.
Civello also said that Stony Brook University needs to take a "hard look" at its program and take a look at what is being taught to students.
Stony Brook University officials released a statement saying in part, "The comments made online were from what appears to be a faculty member's private account that is not affiliated with Stony Brook University."
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison called the incident a "justified shooting" during a news conference.
A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James' office tells News 12 that a special investigation has been opened in Lopez's death.
The Suffolk PBA says they want Hayward to retract her statement and apologize.
News 12 reached out to Hayward for comment and have not heard back.
Stony Brook University released a statement on Wednesday, saying in part,
"All members of the Stony Brook University Community possess free speech rights, but faculty members exercising those rights do not speak on behalf of the university.
The remarks recently made by one of our faculty members about Suffolk County Police do not represent the views of Stony Brook University.
Stony Brook University will continue its efforts to drive positive change in police encounters in our communities. However, the incendiary language used by this faculty member was inappropriate and does not correspond to the reported facts of the incident.
We hope for the speedy recovery of the three injured officers and are grateful to them and to the professionals at Stony Brook University Hospital who treated them."