A member of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s Human Rights Commission, who was charged with first degree reckless endangerment, a felony, after allegedly firing a shotgun into the back of a car and then aiming at a nearby apartment window on September 25, took to the internet Tuesday to proclaim her innocence.
Denise M. Mejia was charged Monday after police were called to a report of gunfire near 15th Street and Pierce Avenue just before 2 p.m., according to the report.
A witness told police he saw a woman pull into an alley behind the 1300 block of Pierce, get out of a red Jeep, fire at a vehicle and unsuccessfully try to fire toward the second floor of a nearby building. Ms. Mejia, 42, of 10th Street, was pulled over a few blocks away and officers found a shotgun on the front passenger seat of her red Jeep.
It’s been reported that she told police her son had loaded the shotgun for her and “it just went off” while it was in her possession. She maintains that that is not the case.
In September 2016, Mejia was appointed to a term on the Human Rights Commission that expires at the end of December 2018.
In a written statement issued Tuesday, the commission said Ms. Mejia “proclaims her innocence.”
“Her alleged actions were not in the capacity of a human rights commissioner, nor are they aligned with the mission and purpose of the Niagara Falls Human Rights Commission,” the statement said.
In a September 26 video posted on a friend’s Facebook page, Ms. Mejia pointed out that she has no prior criminal convictions and that this is out of character for her, which anyone who knows her would attest. She also went on to defend the Niagara Falls Police Department and their treatment of her during the arrest. Some media outlets may have depicted the NFPD harshly, but Ms. Mejia stated that they were only doing their job as they were supposed to, based on the information available to them. As to the response of Niagara Falls Police Department, Ms. Mejia said that they “handled it with class.” She further said they acted professionally at all times, and treated her with respect throughout. Ms. Mejia reserved her anger for certain members of the media for the way she has been portrayed.
“I am, unfortunately, an African American female, a minority female that carries a rifle,” she said. “That is my right as an American to do so. So just because I don’t fit in to what you think a probable NRA member looks like or someone who goes out the range on weekends looks like, these are things we’re working on in our country.”
“Your tax dollars don’t pay for me to be on the Niagara Falls Human Rights Commission,” she continued. “This was a volunteer position, which means that I spend my money to protect your rights.”
“I will tell you who did not do their job is the media,” she said. “The junket media, and I will put the emphasis on junk. They decided to basically take photographs and publish false stories.”
Ms. Mejia said the stories concerning the incident reported by local daily newspapers and television stations were completely false.
“First of all, I did not go to my ex-boyfriend’s house and shoot up his car,” she said. “If you even want to call him an ex-boyfriend, because he’s not. It wasn’t a domestic incident. The man didn’t even come out of the house.” Ms. Mejia points out that the incident occurred in broad daylight.
“It was all an accident. They made it seem like I was the DC Sniper.”
Throughout the video, Ms. Mejia repeated that her son did not load the shotgun that supposedly went off during the incident, and that the car involved was seriously vandalized sometime before she was ever at the scene.
As to why she had her shotgun in her car, Ms. Mejia said on Facebook “I needed a new case for my gun, which was why the gun was in the car in the first place,” pointing out that she hunts, and it is almost deer hunting season.