Saheed Vassell, a 34-year-old black man from Brooklyn, was fatally shot by NYPD police officers after they mistook a pipe he was holding for a gun. The father of a teenager apparently pointed the metal object at the officers, who fired 10 shots to take him down. Vassell was hit multiple times. Witnesses claim that one of the officers handcuffed the motionless suspect later on.
A number of people gathered outside the police tape after the shooting. The angry crowd shouted at the officers who were believed to be responsible for the shooting. One of the witnesses said the entire community came out after the incident.
“It was a nightmare out there.”
Terence Monahan later said at a press conference that Vassell “took a two-handed shooting stance” at the officers. The NYPD chief of department showed a surveillance photo that vaguely captured the suspect pointing the object at the officers. After Vassell was gunned down, he was taken to Kings County Hospital where he was pronounced dead. No firearm was found at the scene.
According to Monahan, none of the officers involved in the incident was wearing a body camera. Chris J, one of the witnesses, said the officers used chest compression technique on the man after the shooting, but he was already dead.
Officers responded to 911 calls reporting a man wearing a brown leather jacket. According to the calls, the man was waving a silver-color gun at random people. When four officers, only one in uniform, reached the spot; they found Vassell who matched the said description. When the officers approached him, he reportedly aimed the object at them as well.
The NYPD shot dead 34-year-old #SaheedVassell in Brooklyn today. He was unarmed. Four officers fired 10 times, killing him. They said he was holding the below “metal pipe” in a “shooting stance.” https://t.co/BaF8ylviCE pic.twitter.com/2If8vlTJDz
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) April 5, 2018
According to one of the witnesses, the officers started firing without giving any warning to the suspect. Jaccbot Hinds told the New York Daily News that the officers never asked the suspect to put his hands up in the air. According to the 40-year-old witness, the officers did not even say please to Vassell.
Another black man from Sacramento was shot dead earlier in March. Twenty-two-year-old Stephon Clark was fatally shot by officers who thought he was holding a gun when he was holding a mobile phone.
The shooting caused massive outrage and state legislators declared a bill to restrict police shooting. According to the bill, deadly force would be used only when necessary instead of using it “when reasonable,” Vox reported.