NYC Police Fatally Shoot Black Man, Mistake Pipe For Gun

New York police shoot and kill Brooklyn man carrying metal pipe
NYC Police Fatally Shoot Black Man, Mistake Pipe For Gun
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08 April, 2018

NY state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced that he would investigate the shooting.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that Vassell had a "profound mental health problem", but said he imagined what could have played out if Vassell actually had a gun.

Clarke said she looks forward to working with elected officials in ensuring that "the appropriate focus is given to addressing the mentally ill and their interactions with NYPD, and proper, clear and transparent protocols are in place to make sure that lethal force is used as a last resort when interacting with the mentally ill of our communities, so we can avoid losing another life to unnecessary violence". NYC Shut It Down, an activist organization in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, organized the rally along with other community groups Equality for Flatbush, Peoples Power Assemblies, Why Accountability and Workers World Party.

"They need to lose their jobs and they need to be put in jail - the same as if someone kills a cop", Ramel Johnson, 38, told The Guardian.

"The patrol guide of the NYPD will ask officers to identify themselves, and ask the suspect to drop the gun".

But police took the unusual step of releasing surveillance footage of Vassell just before he was shot, including a still obtained by NBC New York that showed him running and pointing the pipe at a bystander on Utica Avenue.

And it appears to show Vassell accosting a woman and a child with the pipe and menacing another man with it. Callers to 911 said the man was waving a gun at people on the street, but neighborhood residents say it was well-known Saheed Vassell suffered from mental illness.

Vassell's shooting, which took place on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, sparked anger among residents of the area who questioned why the police didn't restrain or taser him. Angie Lewis has lived in the neighborhood for three decades.

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Protesters suggested the police shooting of a pipe-wielding Brooklyn man this week was murder.

"This was a call of a man pointing what 911 callers said they felt was a gun", Monahan said. It turned out to be a cellphone.

The release of the edited material on the New York Police Department's Twitter account - the full videos and transcripts weren't immediately provided - was meant to back up claims by the police department that the four plainclothes and two uniformed officers who responded had a legitimate reason to believe they needed to move swiftly to stop a deadly threat.

In the California case, body cameras captured the moment when Clark was cut down by a fusillade of 20 shots.

Police say they thought it was a gun when they got to the scene and opened fire, killing Vassell, a block away from his home.

Witnesses say they did so - without warning.

The city's medical examiner found Mr Vassell was hit seven to nine times, including one shot to the head.

Four officers fired 10 shots at the man, who was pronounced dead at a hospital. He was 34 years old.


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