An innocent bystander who was accidentally shot by an undercover New York City police officer on Friday died in the hospital from his gun wounds. The bystander, identified as 61-year-old Felix Kumi, received multiple shots to his torso, and was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center after the incident. He died early Saturday morning at approximately 12:55 a.m.
According to reports by the Wall Street Journal, Kumi was standing within the vicinity of an undercover police arrest in Mount Vernon, New York, when a New York City police officer opened fire on a suspected illegal firearms dealer and his accomplice. The suspect was shot three times, and Kumi was also caught in the line of fire.
The arms dealer, later identified as 28-year-old Jeffrey Aristy, had intended to sell a gun to an undercover New York City police officer and called to arrange an appointment in the Bronx. When the officer arrived, Aristy asked him to drive to Mount Vernon and stop at the intersection of Beekman and Tecumseh Avenues.
The New York Times reported that later, a 37-year old man, possibly Aristy’s accomplice, got into the back seat of the car and held the officer at gunpoint, demanding payment for the purchase. After paying for the firearm, the officer attempted to arrest both suspects, but the situation turned awry when the man pointed his gun at the officer once again, causing the officer to open fire.
In the ensuring moments of chaos, Aristy escaped, but his alleged accomplice was critically wounded in the exchange of gunfire, which also brought down bystander Felix Kumi. A backup team of NYPD officers also opened fire at the escaping suspect from nearby streets, and people living in the neighborhood at the time reported hearing successive volleys of gunfire. Several bullet casings were found in cars and in nearby homes. No one other than the two men were hurt in the incident.
The escaped gun dealer was later found and arrested by the police and charged with illegal sale of firearms.
The death of Mr. Kumi from such a tragic accident shook the New York City community. Minerva Saaby, a long time friend of Kumi, described the shock and grief that overwhelmed her when she first received the tragic news.
“When we all heard this, we were so devastated because here is a man who never hurt nobody. We weep because we lost not only a human being but a father, a genuine father.”
The victim had two children, a son and a daughter.
Ongoing investigations are still being conducted by the NYPD, as police officers look in depth at the shooting and at any potential violations of NYPD protocol.
[Photo Credit: Uli Seit / The New York Times]