undergroundnewsroom.com April 25, 2018

NY police shoot dead man after mistaking metal pipe for gun

06 April 2018, 02:12 | Damon Campbell

De Blasio thanked the NYPD after saying"We are the safest big city in the country for a reason

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Herman Bell, who was convicted of brutally murdering two New York City police officers in 1971, had his release blocked.

Police responded to the scene after three different 911 callers reported a black man pointing a silver firearm at people on the street at around 4:40 p.m., authorities said.

Police officers allege that when they showed up to the scene, the victim, identified as Saheed Vassell, pointed what looked like a gun at them.

The metal object turned out to be a metal pipe with a knob on the end. Four officers, three in street clothes and one in uniform, fired 10 shots at Vassell, who was known to be mentally ill.

Four of the officers then opened fire, striking Mr Vassell. NYPD refused to answer if officers warned Vassell before firing, and none of the officers involved wore body cameras.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The father of a man killed by police officers in Brooklyn said his son was bipolar and wasn't taking his medication, but was not risky and didn't deserve to die.

A tense crowd gathered after the shooting, with some people shouting at officers and decrying the killing as another example of an unarmed black man dying at the hands of police officers who overreacted.

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Only after he was fatally wounded did the officers discover that the metal object was an L-shaped pipe.

A witness to the shooting told reporters police had shot Vassell without warning, while others said Vassell and officers exchanged some words. "He speaks to himself, usually he has an orange bible or a rosary in his hand". Andre Wilson told the Daily News,"The officers from the neighborhood, they know him". You would never catch him down, "Jezebel reports". But he's not insane enough to go around hitting people, ' a witness who knew Vassell said.

Officers responded to the area where they encountered a man who matched Vassell's description and approached him. He has no issue with violence.

Vassell told the New York Daily News that his son refused treatment and had not taken medication for the condition in years.

"This is a tragedy because a man with a profound mental health problem from what we know so far was doing something that people perceived to be a threat to others", said Mayor de Blasio.

On Thursday, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit had launched a probe into Vassell's death.

Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the settlement sends an important message at a time when the Trump administration's "Muslim ban" will come before the US Supreme Court and "full-throated racism and xenophobia is part of White House personnel and policy".

By state law, the attorney general is appointed as a special prosecutor to oversee investigations into and prosecute matters related to incidents in which unarmed civilians die during interactions with police or incidents in which there is significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and unsafe, Spitalnick said, citing the law. Last month, Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, was killed in his grandmother's backyard by Sacramento police in California.

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