In Brooklyn, New York, NYPD officers encountered Crown Heights man Saheed Vassell on Wednesday afternoon (4/4/18), after responding to reports that a man was in the street carrying what they assumed was a gun. When Vassell pointed the metal object towards the officers, they open fired and killed Vassell, with the family and some neighbors saying the man was mentally ill.
NBC New York writes:
Authorities have identified the pipe-wielding man shot and killed by police in Brooklyn as a 34-year-old borough resident. Meanwhile, tensions in the Crown Heights neighborhood where he was shot Wednesday continue to simmer.
Cops say they shot the man, Saheed Vassell, after officers responding to three 911 calls about a man pointing a gun at people arrived at the scene and thought he was doing just that. No gun was recovered at the scene.
Vassell was well-known in the neighborhood, according to his family. His parents Eric and Lorna Vassell tell News 4 he had bipolar disorder but was a “good person.” They said they’re not angry, but “hurt” that they say police didn’t give him a warning to drop the pipe before opening fire.
The outlet adds that one witness who saw the incident unfold stated that police didn’t give Vassell a warning and instead immediately began shooting. In fairness, video footage does show Vassell pointing the pipe as if it were a gun at individuals on the street.
Still, many citizens believe that NYPD officers were hasty in response and the family and neighbor are both scrambling for answers.