New York City police say they have no solid evidence to support the claim that a black teen was being chased by a mostly white crew shouting racial slurs before he collapsed and died of an apparent asthma attack, the Associated Press reports.
According to Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, the death of 16-year-old Dayshen McKenzie was gang-related and didn't appear to be a hate crime.
On Friday the New York Daily News published an article featuring former Officer Diane Fatigati, who claimed that she saw the mostly white crew chasing Dayshen and his friends and calling them the n-word.
Police, however, are now saying that Dayshen was part of a mixed-race group that had gathered to watch a gang-related, "preplanned" fight. He and others, they maintain, ran away after someone claimed to have a gun. The teen, who had asthma and a heart condition, ultimately collapsed and died in the aftermath.
"It has been determined preliminarily, that McKenzie died as a result of a pre-existing medical condition," Boyce said, according to AP. "There is no evidence, nor do we have any witnesses, indicating that it was (an) assault."
Boyce, AP notes, also acknowledged that in initial interviews with Fatigati and other witnesses, "no one reported any racial- or biased-related comments."
A friend of Dayshen's who was also quoted in the Daily News story as saying that the other group was heard yelling racial slurs is refusing to cooperate with the police, according to the report.
On Friday, AP notes, Fatigati said that she never told the Daily News that Dayshen's death was definitely racial, but Daily News Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich said that the newspaper had her initial account on tape and that it was backed up by the teen's friend.
"It is not our job to determine whether Dayshen's death was a result of a hate crime. That is the NYPD's job," Rich said in a statement, according to AP. "Our job is to gather information, corroborate facts and then tell the story. This is what we did and we stand by our reporting."
Read more at the Associated Press.