"Our condolences are with the family and loved ones of Saheed Vassell, who was killed by NYPD on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Saheed Vassell should not have been killed and it’s completely unacceptable that families in New York City and across the nation continue to be harmed by police violence – this being at least the fourth such killing in the past 9 months in New York City (Dwayne Jeune, Miguel Richards and Mario Sanabria). The New York Attorney General's office's investigation should be swift, thorough, and transparent.
"An unmarked car pulled up in the middle of the day and officers, both in uniform and in plain clothes, jumped out and shot Saheed Vassell in cold blood. This was a hit on a member of our community. The involvement of the NYPD's hyper-aggressive anti-crime unit – known for engaging in police abuses – and the hyper-militarized Strategic Response Group (SRG) - formed during the de Blasio administration - in this killing is problematic and we condemn the SRG's policing within communities. Police killings of civilians continue to occur in our city because the de Blasio administration is more interested in running PR campaigns to try improving the image of the NYPD than addressing the substance of the department’s systemic problems. The NYPD PR machine to justify this killing is in full operation, with initial reports falsely claiming Mr. Vassell had a gun, the use of new terms like ‘shooting stance’ and the selective release of photos and information. It has become common practice for these justification efforts to immediately kick in, as was just recently shown with the lying by officers immediately after killing Ramarley Graham
. This effort to justify, rather than seek truth, continues in killing after killing because the de Blasio administration has done nothing to end it or discipline officers when they lie to justify their actions.
“If Saheed Vassell experienced emotional distress, it is deeply disturbing that he has become another New Yorker failed by the city and killed by its police department. Despite the mayor and first lady touting their mental health initiative, they continue to be silent about the repeated killings of people in emotional distress by police, which now totals at least 11 in the past four years. There are solutions to these problems that can prevent these killings but the de Blasio administration needs to be willing to truly listen to people in impacted communities and take action on their solutions to change the status quo.”
About Communities United for Police Reform: Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment. CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.
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