By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Fri. April 6, 2018: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants to know why a mentally ill Caribbean-born immigrant was shot to death by NYPD officers.
Jamaican immigrant Saheed Vassell was holding a silver metal pipe with a head Wednesday afternoon at Utica Avenue near the corner of Montgomery Street, in Brooklyn, but police say they mistook it for a silver gun and opened fire, killing the Brooklyn resident.
Two plainclothes and two uniformed officers were reportedly responding to a 911 call just before 5 p.m. ET about a man pointing what was described as a “silver firearm” at people at the corner, according to Chief of Department Terence Monahan.
When officers arrived Vassell, 34, reportedly pointed the object at them and they opened fire, shooting a combined 10 times.
“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers, two of whom were in uniform,” Monahan said. “This is corroborated with video we have reviewed. Four officers fired their weapons, striking Vassell. They then ‘immediately’ administered aid to him and requested an ambulance.”
Vassell was transported to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood, where he was pronounced dead,
The shooting sparked an intense standoff between angry residents who knew Vassell and police.
But Monahan said “three different 911 callers described a man with a gun, pointing it at people in the street (and) there is also video from commercial establishments along Utica Avenue that shows a man brandishing what appears to be a firearm — pointing it at people.”
“We’re committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive, and fair investigation,” Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday.
Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn, thanked the state attorney general for launching a probe, saying in a statement Thursday, “We must all pursue justice.”
Vassell’s mother, Lorna Vassell, called the killing of her son “unjustified.”
“I want justice. They murdered my son, and I want justice for him,” she said, while questioning why police didn’t simply shoot her son in his leg.
His father, Eric Vassell, said his son had bipolar disorder and had been admitted to the hospital multiple times in recent years, sometimes after encounters with the police.
Saheed Vassell was born in Jamaica and came to the United States when he was 6. He lived with his family in a Crown Heights apartment and had worked as a welder. He also had a 15-year-old son who survives him.
The latest police killing happened on the same day many across the US paused to remember the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.