Lehner family to file wrongful death lawsuit

The family of Officer Craig Lehner intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo in the coming weeks, an attorney for the family confirmed to Investigative Post. The family had previously signaled its intention to do so with the filing of a notice of claim.

Lehner drowned during a training exercise in the Niagara River last October with the police Underwater Recovery Team. Investigative Post subsequently reported that inadequate training and equipment contributed to his death.

Dangerously fast currents typical of the Niagara River were also a factor. On the day Lehner drowned, the currents were moving at 8 to 12 knots, or up to nearly 14 miles per hour, far beyond the capabilities of a trainee whose previous diving experience was limited to calmer, more contained water. Public safety diving experts say to safely train for swift water diving, currents should only be moving between 1 and 4 knots, or under 5 miles per hour.

Aaron Glazer, an attorney for Lehner’s family, said the complaint will allege the city acted with negligence in training, safety procedures and equipment.