A Great Big City

Man Dies in Crown Heights Police Shooting

Montgomery Street and Utica Avenue, Brooklyn
Montgomery Street and Utica Avenue, Brooklyn via Google Maps

A man described by local residents as suffering from mental illness was shot and killed by police in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Police were dispatched to a call around 4:45pm about a man pointing a gun at people on the street. Upon arrival, officers spotted a man that matched the description, holding a silver object that he then pointed at police. According to NYPD Chief of Department Monahan, four NYPD officers, three plainclothes officers and one in uniform, fired about 10 shots at the man. The man, later identified as Saheed Vassell, was pronounced dead at Kings County hospital. His father explained that his son was bipolar, but not taking medication.

The silver object Vassell was holding and pointing at officers appeared to be a pipe or plumbing fixture of some kind. There was no gun recovered at the scene.

Object via NYPD

Security camera footage taken prior to the police arriving showed the Vassell pointing the object at passers-by, consistent with the 911 calls police had received about a man pointing a silver gun at people on the street.

Security camera footage shows the man using the silver object as a fake gun

The NYPD released a video the day after the shooting that presents the security camera footage and 911 calls that took place leading up to the fatal shooting:

An extended video shows people fleeing as the man lurches toward them and points the object at their heads:

NYPD body cameras are listed as "partially deployed" in the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn, where the shooting took place, but Chief Monahan said none of the officers in today's shooting were wearing body cams.

The New York Attorney General's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit will open an investigation into the shooting. The special unit is specifically tasked with investigating police shootings of unarmed individuals.

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