News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 15, 2013: Even as former Mayor David Dinkins was praising Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes at his re-election fundraiser earlier this week, a Caribbean American organization was calling for his office to investigate the shooting to death by two New York City Police officers of a Caribbean American teen.
The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy says the parents of 16-year-old Kimani “Kiki” Gray deserve the truth and to find out exactly why their son was shot to dead with seven bullets on March 9th in the heavily West Indian area of East Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York.
The CGID’s comments come as a protests continued for a third consecutive night Wednesday in Brooklyn, New York, as many youth demanded answers and said the police is constantly harassing their community.
Dozens chanted “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today” as they marched west on Church Ave. toward the 67th Precinct stationhouse on March 13th. But things quickly got out of hand as some protesters tried to climb on police motorcycles. Men and women were pepper-sprayed and thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
Burke said the disturbance Wednesday night only erupted in East Flatbush after the sister of Kimani Gray was beaten by police and arrested.
Burke said the beating and arrest of Kimani Gray’s sister cannot be justified and the tearing down of posters of Gray at the vigil by police officers is unacceptable.
He also wants the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and slammed more elected officials and community leaders for not weighing in on the killing.
The silence is deafening!,” said Burke.
“The only elected official that has shown leadership ‘on the ground’ is Councilmember Jumaane Williams. And in my humble opinion, he needs help and support from his colleagues,” added the CGID head. “I understand if some folks don’t want to comment on the shooting in and of itself. But at least every one needs to appeal for calm, tranquility and a cessation of violence on both the part of the police and protestors, as well as the wanton destruction of our own community.”
“This unwarranted aggression by the police is inciting the community and has exacerbated the anger and tension,” said Burke. “Regardless of what the facts of this shooting are, the police didn’t have to kill this kid and all of our leaders should at minimum go on record as calling for a thorough and independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine if the law was violated. We have canvassed the entire area and spoken to ‘all’ of the eyewitnesses. None have fully substantiated the police story, if at all, and the people don’t believe the police because of perceived and/or actual discrepancies.”
He said: “Ultimately the police version may or may not be factual. But at least let’s speak with a collective voice. The silence is deafening!.”
But he admitted that “what happened on Wednesday night and nights prior is unacceptable and unsustainable for this community.”
“If we remain silent and allow the anger of our youth to boil over the result will be unbearable for our community. There is a dangerous miscalculation and underestimation of the gravity of the situation on our hands and we need leadership. The only elected official that has shown leadership “on the ground” is Jumaane Williams. And in my humble opinion, he needs help and support from his colleagues. I understand if some folks don’t want to comment on the shooting in and of itself. But at least every one needs to appeal for calm, tranquility and a cessation of violence on both the part of the police and protestors, as well as the wanton destruction of our own community,” added Burke.
Gray was shot at 11 times but 7 bullets struck him, three in the back in the heavily West Indian area of East Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. He was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
One bullet entered his left shoulder in the rear, exiting in the front; two other bullets struck the back of his thighs, one in the left thigh and one in the right. Two bullets struck from the front, hitting his right thigh; one bullet entered his left side, striking his lower rib cage; and the last bullet hit his left lower forearm.
His body has not yet been handed over to his family so funeral arrangements cannot be made.
Deputy Police Commissioner for public relations, Paul Brown, claimed the detectives were on patrol and observed Gray emerge from the group acting suspiciously. Brown said when officers confronted Gray he pointed a gun at them.
However, witnesses dispute the police version of events and said Gray did not have a weapon. They said the officers pulled up on the block and began rushing the kids to frisk them, without identifying themselves and then began shooting. The officers also allegedly pointed their guns at onlookers and threatened to shoot anyone who attempted to record the incident, according to witnesses.
CGID Communications Director, Jevon Suralie, in a statement dismissed the police account as “embellished and uncorroborated.”
He said eyewitness accounts to CGID officials, community leaders and elected officials, starkly contradict the “seemingly contrived” police story.
“In light of such flagrant contradictions the police’s rushed determination that the shooting was justifiable seems premature and impetuous,” said Suralie.
“These kids were for no valid or lawful reason confronted by heavily armed officers who Brown admits were on regular patrol and not responding to any report about misconduct or disturbance of the peace. Therefore we need an explanation why these kids were profiled and harassed by police officers who did not identify themselves.”
Suralie also blasted the release of sealed information from the teen’s juvenile record and accused the NYPD of violating the law. “The unlawful release of Kimani Gray’s sealed juvenile records is an attempt by the NYPD to color public perception of this yet another shooting of a young black male by white officers. This is callous and disgraceful,” he contended.
An autopsy on March 13th did not establish the order in which the bullets struck Gray, or determine the path of the bullets, which might make it clearer if Gray had his back to the officers when he was shot, or if he had twisted away after being struck from the front.
Gray had reportedly just left a baby shower and was standing on the sidewalk with a group of about thirteen other teens. No one in the group is alleged to have created any disturbance or committed any alleged crime.
The two New York City police officers are black and Hispanic, respectively. The shot teen’s parents hail from Jamaica and Guyana.
Gray’s mother, Carol Gray, had to be admitted after learning her son’s death. She recently lost another son recently to a car accident. Yesterday, wrapped in a black scarf and her eyes concealed by sunglasses she told a roomful of reporters: “He was slaughtered and I want to know why.”
Speaking of her son in the present tense, Carol Gray remembered a boy who still had a curfew to abide by at night; a boy who babysat his nieces and nephews regularly and who, for the first time in his life, recently got a bedroom all to himself.
“The past couple of days, the bell hasn’t rung,” she said. “I’m still waiting for him to come home.”
See more on this story with Felicia Persaud on One Caribbean Television on Thursday, March 14th.