Police Shoot and Kill a Man in Brooklyn

Saul Bowman
April 8, 2018

Protesters stormed down the streets of New York Thursday night to protest the death of Saheed Vassell, a 34-year-old black man whose life was lost at the hands of police officers tasked with protecting civilians.

According to the released transcripts, one caller to 911 reported that Vassell "looks like he's insane but he's pointing something at people that looks like a gun".

The object the man was holding was not a gun, but rather "a pipe with some sort of knob on the end of it", Monahan said. It seems like a gun.

The video released Thursday shows Saheed Vassell aggressively pointing an object at pedestrians that turned out to be an L-shaped piece of pipe.

Eric Vassell's four-year-old granddaughter asked him how long her uncle will be dead.

"It's a tragedy because a man with a profound mental health problem ... was doing something that people perceived to be a threat to the safety of others", de Blasio said at a news conference shortly before the images and a partial transcript of 911 calls were released.

The video shows him pointing the pipe at at least seven people, including someone with a child and someone who runs and immediately puts their his hands up.

The Washington Post reported that police confronted Vassell in response to several 911 calls about a man brandishing what callers reportedly believed was a gun in the area where he was fatally shot.

Another caller says, "Oh my God!" and screams.

"We're committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive and fair investigation", Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement.

Maki Haberfeld, Director of Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says there is no formal policy requiring officers to announce themselves, or order a suspect to drop a weapon, before opening fire. "We've got to recognize if they believe they are in immediate matter of life-and-death to the people in the surrounding area, that's an exceedingly hard, tense split-second decision that has to be made".

According to media reports, the victim of the shooting was known in the neighborhood and was mentally ill but not violent.

The metal object that police mistook for a firearm at the scene of the fatal shooting in Brooklyn on Wednesday. His father had previously told NY 1 that his son had bipolar disorder.

"Police had a choice". "The officers in the neighborhood know him". They should not train them to kill.

"And the way they killed him, they didn't give him no choice", he continued.

The shooting happened on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior's assassination, and it comes just a few weeks after a black man in Sacramento was shot and killed by police who thought he had a gun.

As per an executive order, the attorney general has the authority to oversee investigations into incidents where unarmed civilians die during interactions with police, or incidents where there is significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and unsafe.

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