Police responded in riot gear to a Wednesday night vigil for the slain teen, arresting 46 people, mostly for "disorderly conduct."
(Photo : Reuters)
As the Brooklyn neighborhood of East Flatbush reels in grief, trying to process the death of teenager Kimani Gray, the streets ignited in a series of protests throughout the week with outcries of police brutality, leading to almost 50 arrests of locals by officers armed in riot gear.
Accounts vary wildly depending on the source, but one thing is certain: 16-year-old New York native Gray was shot to death by two undercover police officers the night of March 9. Based on the police report, Gray pointed a gun at an officer after he was stopped for acting "suspiciously," and was then shot to death. Witnesses at the scene agree Gray was stopped by police, but the similarities in their stories of the incident end there. Many have claimed Gray never pointed a firearm at police, and others have also said he wasn't even carrying a gun and was shot by authorities "preemptively."
"He was screaming, 'Stop! I'm not running!'" 16-year-old Devonte Brown told The New York Post.
"He was running for his life, telling the cops, 'Stop,'" witness Camille Johnson told PIX11 News. "They are seriously walking around, shooting little kids," she said.
"I heard a lot of shots, rapid fire, about eight shots. I heard the gun shots from my living room," an unnamed neighbor told the Post.
Once officers finished shooting Gray, one of the police then allegedly stood over Gray and could be heard threatening the young man.
"He said, 'Please don't let me die.' One of the officers replied, 'Stay down or we'll shoot you again,'" said a witness - who only wanted to be identified as Vanessa - to the New York Times.
Ever since the teen's death, some in the neighborhood are struggling to cope with what they view as just another very public example of police brutality.
Gray's mother begged the city of New York to search for justice in her son's killing at a vigil Wednesday night, saying she doesn't believe he pointed a firearm at police. She said he was just leaving his best friend's birthday party the night he was suddenly shot. Police responded to the vigil in riot gear, arresting 46 people, mostly for "disorderly conduct."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the protests, sympathizing with the family but claiming authorities are certain the teen had a gun.
"Our hearts all have to go out to the family of this young man," said Bloomberg, The Huffington Post reported. "So far, all indications are that the young man had a gun, and I can promise you that we will conduct a full and fair investigation."
Kenneth Montgomery, an attorney for the Gray family, cast doubt on the NYPD's story of how the young man died. Montgomery said the family wants to know exactly how the firearm was recovered and by whom.
According to the police report, Gray and a group of male friends were hanging out late Saturday evening in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn when they were observed by undercover officers acting "suspiciously." Grey allegedly began to leave the area after noticing the undercover officers in a red unmarked car.
As the undercover policemen identified themselves while walking towards him, Gray then allegedly pointed a .38-caliber revolver at one of the officers, who responded by shooting the teen 11 times, hitting him in the leg and stomach, according to The New York Post. His firearm was holding four live rounds, police claimed.
"After the anti-crime sergeant and police officer told the suspect to show his hands, which was heard by witnesses, Gray produced a revolver and pointed it at the officers, who fired a total of 11 rounds, striking Gray several times," Paul J. Browne, chief spokesman for the Police Department told The New York Times.
"I understand that there's anger in the community, but the way to get answers is not through violence or lawbreaking," said Bloomberg. "We cannot tolerate that, and we will not tolerate that."
"You can rest assured we will take adequate precautions to protect the public. I'm not at liberty to discuss what those will be."
According to NYPD statistics, a "majority" of the individuals shot by officers in 2011 were black and hispanic. The 2012 report is currently unavailable.