Officers Fatally Shoot Black Man Who Was Holding A Piece Of Metal Pipe

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“The officers from the neighborhood, they know him... Everybody just knows he’s just mentally challenged. This shouldn’t have happened at all.”

 

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and less than a month after police officers killed an unarmed black man in his own backyard in California after mistaking his cellphone for a gun, cops in New York City fatally shot another black man in the middle of the street after mistaking a piece of metal pipe for a firearm.

As is usual in such cases of police brutality, the victim was an unarmed African-American man who reportedly suffered from mental health issues – a fact that most people in the neighborhood were apparently well aware of. He was shot at 10 times by four NYPD officers.

The tragic incident took place in the Crown Heights in Brooklyn after at least three 911 callers reported a “man was pointing a silver firearm at people on the street,” according to NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan. The man was described as “a male black, wearing a brown jacket.”

When five police officers, including three in plainclothes, arrived at the scene, they saw a man matching the description standing at the intersection.

“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers, two of whom were in uniform,” the police chief added. “Four of the officers then fired a total of 10 rounds, striking the man, who was later found to be holding a “pipe with some sort of knob at the end.”

The victim has been identified as Saheed Vassell, a 36-year-old Muslim father. The cops later figured out he wasn’t holding a silver firearm but “a pipe with some sort of knob on the end of it.” Some social media users claim it was shower head.

He was taken to Kings County Hospital, where the doctors pronounced him dead.

Vassell, who reportedly has a 15-year-old son, was a well-known figure in the neighborhood. Apparently, a lot of people knew about his mental illness, including some neighborhood officers.

 

“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,” victim’s neighbor Andre Wilson told the Daily News.

He said he had known Vassell for 20 years and described him as a “quirky neighborhood character” while expressing his utter shock at the senseless killing.

“The officers from the neighborhood, they know him,” Wilson continued. “He has no issue with violence. Everybody just knows he’s just mentally challenged. This shouldn’t have happened at all.”

It is also important to mention none of the officers were wearing body camera at the time of the fatal shooting.

While still images from the surveillance footage appear to show a man holding a metal pipe as police officers approach him, the question is, why couldn’t the officers contain the man without lethal use of force?

Not to mention, what kind of police officers can’t distinguish between a firearm and a metal pipe?

Following the tragic shooting, scores of residents gathered at the scene to raise their voice against the officers’ brutal response.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office also sent out a tweet in response to the killing.

 

Meanwhile, social media users expressed their anger and frustration towards the continued police shootings involving unarmed black men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbnail , Banner Credits: Reuters

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