The NYPD said 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.
The victim, Saheed Vassell, was well-known to everyone on Utica Avanue.
He was known for struggling with mental health issues. People say he was harmless, and that the police should have known that too.
Vassell's family members were outraged.
"He lives in the church," his aunt said. "He lives in the church. He never had a gun!"
"Everybody is hurting right now," said one of his cousins, who was in so much pain he could barely make sense of it. "He's a good kid. They killed him for no reason."
Brief moment of unity and prayer tonight after tensions ran high in Crown Heights following NYPD shooting and killing an unarmed man on Utica Avenue. pic.twitter.com/1o64dgtRN0— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) April 5, 2018
The 36-year-old Vassell was a familiar face in Crown Heights. His death sent tensions high with officers on the scene.
"Shoot me too," one resident said to police. "And officer, stop murdering our people. How's that sound?"
"He don't trouble nobody," another resident said. "But he always do this, like, he's shooting and all that. Maybe that's why they do all that shooting? I don't know. But they shouldn't shoot him for no reason at all."
Neighborhood residents say Vassell would go to the store for you if you asked him. At most, they say he would ask for a quarter or a cigarette.
His cousin said he leaves behind a teenage son.
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