New York officers kill man after mistaking metal pipe for gun

Posted at 6:48 AM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 06:48:41-04

New York City police officers shot and killed a black man after he pointed what they believed was a gun at them, authorities said.

After the shooting Wednesday evening, officers discovered the man was holding “a pipe with some sort of knob on it,” Police Chief Terence A. Monahan said at a news conference.

The incident started shorly before 5 p.m., when officers received 911 calls of a man aiming what callers described as a silver firearm at people in Brooklyn, according to Monahan.

“Three different 911 callers described a man with a gun, pointing it at people on the streets,” he said.

‘Two-handed shooting stance’

When officers arrived at the scene, they found a man matching the description provided by the callers.

“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers, two of whom were in uniform,” he said.

Four officers discharged their weapons, striking the man, Monahan said. They gave him first aid and called for an ambulance to transport him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“It appears we fired 10 rounds between the four officers,” Monahan said. The unidentified officers, who were not wearing body cameras, discovered the metal pipe at the scene.

‘He’s polite, he’s kind’

Brooklyn resident Eric Vassell told CNN affiliate NY1 that the victim was his 35-year-old son, Saheed Vassell.

He had no weapons and suffered from bipolar disorder, he said.

“He’s polite, nice, he’s kind. He just comes and he goes,” Vassell said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s received a preliminary briefing on the shooting.

The incident comes weeks after Sacramento officers killed an African-American man who they believed was pointing a gun at them. No weapon was found at the scene following Stephon Clark’s shooting on March 18. The only item discovered was a cell phone, police said.

Clark’s killing reignited weeks of protests and calls for police reform. In the wake of the shooting, California lawmakers proposed a drastic change that would limit when police officers can use deadly force. The bill is known as the Police Accountability and Community Protection Act.