The victim is described as a quirky neighborhood charter. “Everybody just knows he’s just mentally challenged. This shouldn’t have happened at all,” says one local resident.
New York City police officers responding to reports of a man threatening people with a gun fatally shot a man carrying a metal pipe, mistaking it for a firearm. It happened just before 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn after three 911 callers said a “man was pointing a silver firearm at people on the street,” according to NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, the Associated Press reports. Five officers, three in plainclothes and two in uniform, encountered a man matching the description in the 911 calls. “The suspect took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers, two of whom were in uniform, said Monahan.
Four of the officers then fired a total of 10 rounds, striking the man, who was later found to be holding a “pipe with some sort of knob at the end,” he said. The New York Daily News identified the man shot as Saheed Vassell, 34. Andre Wilson, 38, told the Daily News that he has known Vassell for 20 years, describing him as a quirky neighborhood character. Wilson said, “The officers from the neighborhood, they know him. He has no issue with violence. Everybody just knows he’s just mentally challenged. This shouldn’t have happened at all.” The shooting comes after the police killing of unarmed black man Stephon Clark on March 18 in Sacramento led to two weeks of protests and calls for police reform.