Violent protesters harass NYPD for teen shooting
A police officer suffered a gash in the face after he was hit by an object tossed from a building
By Colleen Long and Jake Pearson
NEW YORK — The family of a New York City teenager shot to death by police decided Thursday to speak out about the case after a candlelight vigil resulted in 46 arrests.
Kimani "Kiki" Gray's mother, Carol Gray, and other relatives plan to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn.
A spokesman for Gray's parents had said previously that they would not speak publicly as long as there was violence, which he said has "clouded their message."
"It's a tough time for the community," said the spokesman, Rev. Gilford Monrose. "But the family and myself do not condone the violence."
Most of those arrested at the vigil Wednesday night, the third straight day of protests, were charged with disorderly conduct. A police officer suffered a gash in the face after he was hit by an object tossed from a building.
Anger was palpable as a group of young people heckled police officers in helmets and later marched down a street.
The vigil's organizers tried in vain to calm participants; some later threw bottles at police.
"I'm not going to tell people don't be angry because we're all angry," said Franclot Graham, whose teenage son, Ramarley Graham, was shot and killed after police chased him into his Bronx home last year. An officer has been charged with manslaughter. "It's OK to vent but you have to respect the family's wishes and be peaceful," he said.
The medical examiner's office ruled that Gray was hit seven times, and had wounds in both the front and back of his body, including his shoulder, rib cage, forearm and legs.
The teen was with a group Saturday night, but left when he saw police in an unmarked car, police said. Authorities said he was acting suspicious and plain clothes officers approached him. According to police, Gray pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, and they opened fire. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A gun was recovered at the scene, authorities said.
Gray was black. The officers involved in the shooting were black and Hispanic. They have been placed on administrative duty.
A police officer may use deadly force when the officer has a reasonable fear of serious injury or death. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the shooting appeared to be within those guidelines.
But Gray's family maintains he wasn't armed, and people in his Brooklyn community were outraged.
"I want to see justice," said Jamal Williams, 18, a friend who grew up with Gray in the same East Flatbush neighborhood. "I want to see these cops taken down."
On Monday, dozens of people threw bottles and damaged some stores. Police released surveillance video of two of the convenience stores, where people are seen throwing fruit and stealing. In one, the cashier cowers in a corner as people loot the shop.
"I don't think that should have any relationship to a peaceful demonstration," the police commissioner said of the thefts.
Kelly said the group was disorderly, but didn't characterize it as a riot as some local newspapers did.
Rickford Burke, president of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy and an organizer of Wednesday's vigil, condemned the looting. He said the disorderly response came from a deep feeling of frustration in the community that police officers regularly harass and target young black men.
A second cousin of the victim, Ray Charles, said he was devastated to learn of Gray's death — and was still having trouble accepting the NYPD's official version of events.
"My cousin was scared of guns," said Charles, 35. "I honestly just want justice. They didn't need to shoot him like that."
Nine people were shot and killed by police in 2011, according to an NYPD report. Five had guns, two had knives, one tried to ram officers with a car, and another was choking an officer, police said. There were 19 people injured during police gunfire, and of those, 12 had firearms. The majority of the people shot were black or Hispanic men, police said. The 2012 report is not yet available.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press
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