NYPD releases video showing moments before shooting
by Leigh Jones
Posted 4/06/18, 11:33 am
New York police on Thursday released surveillance camera footage taken in the minutes before officers fatally shot a mentally disturbed man Wednesday evening in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Several people called 911 to report a man pointing a gun at people on the street. The video clips showed Saheed Vassell thrusting a metal object that looked like a gun into the faces of several people, including a woman holding her child’s hand. When the officers confronted him, Vassell pointed the object at them. After shooting him, officers discovered Vassell was holding the head of a welding torch. Vassell had a long history of mental illness, including several hospitalizations after encounters with police. But neighbors and his family said officers who patrolled the neighborhood knew he didn’t pose a threat. During a news conference Thursday, Mayor Bill De Blasio called the incident a tragedy and said the officers who responded to the calls about Vassell were just passing through and didn’t know him. Vassell’s father, Eric, still questioned the officers’ decision to shoot his son: “Police had a choice. They always have a choice. They should not train them to kill. They should train them to protect life, to save life.”
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Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.