New York City police officers in the Crown Heights section of New York’s Brooklyn borough shot and killed a man Wednesday afternoon after mistaking a metal pipe he was wielding for a gun.
(The “we feared for our lives” excuse is already past its prime like spoiled milk. Watch how they work this.)
According to the New York Daily News, officers responded to the area just before 5 p.m. after three people called 911 saying that a black man was waving a silver gun at people.
Officers said that when they got to the corner of Utica Avenue and Montgomery Street, 34-year-old Saheed Vassell turned to face them, “took a two-handed shooting stance” and aimed the pipe at him.
One uniformed officer and three plainclothes officers fired a total of 10 shots, hitting Vassell multiple times.
(Did the police announce themselves? Did they tell him to drop the weapon? Did they confirm it was a gun before beginning to shoot?)
A witness, Chris J., told the Daily News that Vassell was “a little touched in the head.”
(In other words, he was mentally challenged.)
Andre Wilson told the Daily News: “All he did was just walk around the neighborhood. He speaks to himself. Usually he has an orange Bible or a rosary in his hand. He never had a problem with anyone.”
No gun was found at the scene of the shooting. What Vassell reportedly aimed at police turned out to be nothing more than a metal pipe with a knob at the end.
The New York City Police Department has had encounters with Vassell before and had already classified him as an emotionally disturbed person, a department spokesman told the New York Times. The Times also reports that there were five officers total, two in uniform and three in plain clothes.
Some witnesses told the Times that they did not hear the officers issue any commands and that it appeared the officers began shooting immediately after they got to the corner where Vassell was standing.
Amazingly enough, none of the statements from the NYPD indicate that the officers said anything to Vassell before shooting him dead in the street.
Jaccpot Hinds told the Times that he saw the officers pull up to Vassell in an unmarked police car. He said a plainclothes officer got out of the passenger seat and fired at Vassell numerous times.
According to NYPD Chief of Department Terrence A. Monahan, none of the officers were wearing body cameras. The plainclothes officers were part of an anti-crime unit, and the uniformed officers were part of the Strategic Response Group, which is usually assigned to major events and hot spots of crime.
Again, the NYPD has not said that the officers issued any commands before shooting Vassell.
This is the second mentally challenged person the NYPD has killed since 2016.
NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry shot and killed Deborah Danner in her apartment in the Castle Hill section of New York’s Bronx borough on Oct. 18, 2016.
He was tried for murder but was acquitted Feb. 15, 2018.
The fatal shooting of Vassell comes less than three weeks after Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento, Calif., police officers in the backyard of his grandparents’ home on March 18.
The police are always fearing for their lives, and they never take a moment to make sure there is a real threat.
They shoot first and ask questions later.
This has got to stop.