Brooklyn police shooting sparks protests

June 16, 2012 4:59:34 PM PDT
Protests were continuing in Brooklyn on Saturday over a deadly police shooting this week.

The detective's gun discharged Thursday as he struggled with 23-year-old Shantel Davis, who had smashed a stolen car into a minivan. She was not armed. It isn't clear whether he intended to fire.

Police say Davis was driving erratically, running red lights through East Flatbush in a car she allegedly stole at gunpoint.

When she crashed the car into a minivan at the corner of Church Avenue and East 38th street, two plainclothes officers tried to get her out of the vehicle.

Investigators say the car jerked backward, knocking one officer to the ground.

When the car then lurched forward, a round from a detective's gun fired, hitting Davis in the chest.

While police say the shooting is justified, many in the community say officers are going too far.

After a vigil on Friday night, a protest was held in East Flatbush on Saturday.

"Neither the police commissioner or the mayor has done anything at all to let me say give them the benefit of the doubt," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams.

"So we won't give them the benefit of the doubt."

Davis had an extensive criminal record.

Her supporters are outraged that her past is being spoken about -- and not the officer's.

"You want to point a finger at a young woman who can't stand up for herself anymore?," said minister Kirsten John Foy.

"And you want to protect the man who took the life of an unarmed woman?!"

Published reports on Saturday said the detective who killed Davis has been sued at least six times since 2003 over alleged brutality. The New York Times and New York Post report that the city has already paid out $224,000 to settle lawsuits against detective Phil Atkins.

The president of the police detectives' union says lawsuits against officers are common, and he is confident Atkins acted properly.

Davis also had a history. She was awaiting trial on charges that she was part of a gang that shot a man five times during a break-in a year ago.

Investigators have not released the identity of the officer who fired the fatal shot.

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