New York Police Department released surveillance video on Thursday of a man, later fatally shot by police, pointing a silver object at several residents.
Roughly one day after New York City police officers shot and killed a mentally ill black man the department has released video clips and transcripts of the 911 calls received in the moments leading up to the confrontation. The four officers had opened fire Wednesday afternoon on Saheed Vassell, 34, after mistaking a metal pipe in his hand for a firearm.
In the video, pulled from security camera footage in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, Vassell appears to pull the pipe on several passersby, pointing it at them in gestures reminiscent of aiming a handgun. The transcripts displayed show several callers referring to a possible gun in his hand.
“There’s a guy walking around the street,” reads one transcript, “he looks like he’s crazy but he’s pointing something at people that looks like a gun and he’s popping it as if like if he’s pulling the trigger.”
Five officers responded to the calls around 4:40 p.m., NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told reporters. Monahan said four of the officers opened fire after Vassell took a “two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced his office is opening an investigation into the incident, noting that “we’re committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive, and fair investigation.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the shooting a tragedy in comments to the media.
“This is someone who had a profound mental health problem — was not on medication, hadn’t been on medication,” de Blasio said. “A man like this, if he had gotten the help we needed, hopefully would never have been in a situation where such a horrible painful, tragedy would have occurred.”