A Year Later: Urging Justice for Saheed Vassell

“We don’t believe the NYPD narrative,” said Lorna Vassell. “We never did.” (Photo by Paul Frangipane via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

On April 4, the anniversary of the death of Saheed Vassell at the hands of NYPD officers, his parents Eric and Lorna joined supporters in a vigil and march in Crown Heights, reports Noah Goldberg for Brooklyn Daily Eagle. This followed a City Hall rally the day before in which they urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire the four cops involved in the shooting. The officers had shot Vassell after mistaking the pipe in his hands for a gun.

At the vigil, Vassell’s good friend shared a fond memory.

Friends gathered outside Kev’s Unique Barbershop — just across the street from where Vassell was shot — where he used to be a regular.

Vassell’s close friend Henry Emmanuel Christian recalled how Vassell would wait for him at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue to finish his night shift at FedEx. “Religiously — every morning — so we could start our day off.”

“He had love in his heart,” Christian said.

Christian said he knew black men in New York died too often at the hands of police, but he never expected it to hit so close to home.

Less than a week before the anniversary, Attorney General Letitia James said her office would not bring charges against the officers.

“We felt disrespected not only at the attorney general’s decision, but at how we were treated as a victim’s family,” Eric Vassell said. “For this decision to come less than a week before the anniversary of Saheed’s death — while we are in deep mourning and grief — was insensitive.”

Vassell’s death “also reignited a debate over how police handle emotionally disturbed persons,” writes Goldberg. Read more at Brooklyn Daily Eagle, including how his parents are calling for accountability on the part of the officers involved.

One Comment

  1. Don’t point a pipe at people, pretend to pull the trigger and point it at officers when their job is to protect themselves and other people. Simple as that. This isn’t racism.

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