State AG investigating NYPD after cops fatally shoot black man brandishing metal pipe in C’Heights

Shot to kill: Saheed Vassell was carrying what police thought was a pistol when they shot him dead, but was later revealed to be a metal pipe.
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New York State’s top prosecutor is investigating the city’s Police Department after officers shot and killed an unarmed black man wielding a metal pipe like a gun in Crown Heights on Wednesday.

“We’re committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive, and fair investigat­ion,” District Attorney Eric Schneiderman said on Twitter on Thursday morning.

The day before, four officers fired 10 shots at 34-year-old Saheed Vassell around 4:40 pm after the man assumed a “two-handed shooting stance” with the pipe on Utica Avenue near Montgomery Street, according to the Police Department’s Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who spoke at a press conference hours after the shooting.

A total of five cops, including two in uniform, rushed to the scene after three separate 911 callers told authorities that Vassell — who doctors at Kings County Hospital pronounced dead following the shooting — threatened passersby with a silver firearm that officers later discovered was a shower head, according to officials.

Surveillance footage police released on Thursday afternoon shows Vassell approach people on the street — including pedestrians who appear to be two men, as well as a woman and child — and point the piece of metal at them as if it were a firearm.

The video clip ends with Vassell brandishing the shower head like a pistol at something off screen — which authorities claimed were the responding officers, who then opened fire.

Police also released partial transcripts of the 911 calls related to the incident, in which two people are quoted describing a man pointing what appeared to be a gun at pedestrians.

“There’s a guy walking around the street, he looks like he’s crazy, but he’s pointing something at people that looks like a gun, and he’s like popping it as if like he’s pulling the trigger,” one caller said, according to cops.

Officers also said a 911 dispatcher told them that the callers reported a man aiming a gun at passersby.

“Firearm job at, ah, Utica and Empire Boulevard, that’s Utica and Empire Boulevard. Caller states a male was pointing a gun at people,” police quoted the dispatcher as saying.

Authorities, however, did not warn Vassell before they shot at him, according to one eyewitness, who compared the shooting to a “hit” in a New York Daily News report.

“The just hopped out of the car. They didn’t say please. They didn’t say put your hands up, nothing,” Jaccpot Hinds told the Daily News.

And Vassell’s father told the New York Times that his Jamaican-born son suffers from bipolar disorder, claiming he spent time in and out of hospitals for treatment of the condition in the past few years. The younger Vassell’s mental disability was allegedly well known by both his neighbors and local police, according to the Times report.

Schneiderman’s announcement of the state probe led by attorneys in his Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit came shortly after a Crown Heights state Senator called for an investigation into the fatal shooting — which occurred on the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — amid demands for better policing from activists in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“As a society, we have to make the Black Lives Matter message clear on our streets,” Hamilton said in a statement. “We should demand quality police work.”

Vassell’s death came weeks after cops killed an unarmed black California man, whom they mistook as carrying a gun when responding to alleged reports of vandalism, shooting him to death in his backyard.

But Monahan defended the actions of his boys in blue, claiming they were told by witnesses to expect an armed suspect.

“This was not an emotionally-disturbed call, this was a call of a man pointing what 911 callers and people felt was a gun at people on the street,” he said. “When we encountered him, he pointed what appeared to be a gun at the officers. We have to stay straight on the facts of this incident.”

Locals will stage a vigil for Vassell at Union Avenue and Montgomery Street today at 4:40 pm — the time police gave for the deadly shooting — which will be followed by a rally protesting racially motivated police violence at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Pipe dream: The shower cap that Saheed Vassell was carrying when he was shot dead by police, according to the department.
Updated 5:46 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Define unarmed.
April 6, 2018, 6:41 am
Homey from Crooklyn says: kidding?
April 6, 2018, 7:01 am
Matt from Bed-Stuy says:
Here we go again with this BS. They're once again pushing the 'unarmed' narrative and ignoring all the facts in order to further their anti-American, anti-cop agenda. The march that took place yesterday was mostly non-local agitators, typical SJW, BLM, Antifa, fascist-Marxist troublemakers. Most sane people are on the side of the cops on this one.
April 6, 2018, 8:01 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
The action is a Clear and present danger
April 6, 2018, 9 am
Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
Police responded after several 911 calls reported a man menacing people with a silver gun. This was not a report of an emotionally disturbed person. Police responded and saw him brandishing what looked like a silver gun. It’s terrible that this man died, but entirely understandable.
April 6, 2018, 9:05 am
Law and Disorder from Formily of Brooklyn Now N C says:
Another reason we left NYC
This was a Good Shoot.
Look at the Vidio
More and more good NYC Cops are applying for Jobs down south.
What a shame for NYC.
April 6, 2018, 9:30 am
Tyler from pps says:
Shoot first, ask questions later.

The NYPD is TERRIBLY TRAINED. Our "heroes in blue" don't have the skills (or interest) in deescalating situations, just neutralizing the situation through the power of bullets.

Why o' why in major cities around the world are there police who deal with the same sorts of situations, but don't need to discharge a firearm?

This is a police problem.

I don't care if this was a pipe or a actual gun... Police pulling their guns our as the *first resort* has to stop.

America *can* learn from other places. Being special is not always a good thing.
April 6, 2018, 9:51 am
Warren Wilhelm from Park Slope says:
They forgot to mention his arrest record and pointing what looks like a gun at people I guess this is normal.
April 6, 2018, 9:59 am
Tyler from pps says:
Does an arrest record have anything to do with the police responding to an incident without "bullet" as the default response?

Were the police around the corner for 20 minutes reviewing his record before jumping from their car firing 10 shots?

(Anyone who views this as "good" police work is part of the problem and have no ability to want to do better.)
April 6, 2018, 10:41 am
Joe Bloe from Bensonhurst says:
Looked like a gun to me, why else would you take a shooting stance. If looks like a duck, acts like a duck it's a duck. Sorry BLM this was a good shoot. What are the police supposed to do, 'excuse sir can you put down that silver thing that may or may not be a gun down, please ?''pretty please ?'
April 6, 2018, 11:20 am
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Good shoot period
April 6, 2018, 11:26 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I’m not sure how someone pointing what looks like a gun at cops and getting the bullets they asked for, becomes a reason to tail against American exceptionalism. Point shiny objects at cops, get shot. It’s a pretty simple formula.
April 6, 2018, 11:34 am
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
Good job NYPD.
April 6, 2018, 12:28 pm
Joe Bloe from Bensonhurst says:
@Tyler, the next time someone points a silver object that looks like a gun, why don't you try to de-escalate the situation. How is the NYPD poorly trained they responded to multiple 911 calls about a man with a gun, and when confronted he points a silver object at them, this is a no brainer ( for people with brains, unlike you ). Wether the individual is by polar, or crazy pointing a silver object at a cop will get you shot, period.
April 6, 2018, 1:43 pm
Traveler from NYC says:
I think that a logical question is why do they need 10 bullets? They are in a residential area and that's how kids get killed with Stray bullets. They are wearing vests, they should shoot to injure first. I get what you guys are saying but this is not a video game, this is life, real life and these are real people. He scared them and yes, he should have gotten arrested because that was dangerous. But to actually say "GOOD KILL" WTF is wrong with you people? This was a mentally sick person who waas bipolar, off his meds. That could happen to a number of people with a mental condition in your family. If this was your brother, father,friend or cousin would you say "Good Kill"? This right here, is a prime example of the Trump Effect!
April 6, 2018, 2:26 pm
Daniel Webster from Urban Dictionary says:
In police language "good kill" means "justified," not good in the common sense.
April 6, 2018, 3:10 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Since NYPD has a 34% accuracy rate when firing their guns, expecting them to shoot someone in the leg is ridiculous. Apparently, cops should just let the perps shoot them and everyone else they can hit, because American exceptionalism is bad.
April 6, 2018, 3:54 pm
Valerie from Greenpoint says:
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge you are a disgusting racist POS! I hope you rot in hell!
April 6, 2018, 8:39 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Sorry again Val, it was me making those disgusting comments. Not only am I a homophobe, I’m a closet bigot and I project my prejudice on to Henry Ford.
April 6, 2018, 8:52 pm
Teresa Toro from Greenpoint says:
Great job NYPD. Wish cops at the 94 were as good as you.
April 6, 2018, 9:48 pm

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