Teen’s shooting pits Brooklyn neighborhood against cops
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) — A band of furious teenagers hurled bottles, bricks and trash cans at New York police Wednesday night, days after police shot and killed an armed Brooklyn youth.
Many in the community of Flatbush say the shooting of 16-year-old Kimani “Kiki” Gray was racially motivated police brutality. The neighborhood is a place where many people mistrust the police and gun violence is part of everyday life.
About 11:30 p.m. Saturday, plainclothes officers were on patrol in their car in Flatbush when they saw a group of men gathered on the street, according to police.
As the officers got closer, Gray broke away from the group and adjusted his waistband, officers said. The teen “continued to act in a suspicious manner,” so the officers got out of their unmarked car and tried to get his attention.
Gray then “turned on them,” a police statement says, and pointed a .38 caliber revolver at the officers.
One officer fired four rounds; another fired seven. Both are now on administrative duty, police said.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said the teen was struck seven times.
Gray died at a hospital, and a loaded .38 was recovered at the scene.
The officers were taken to a hospital and treated for what the department described as trauma and tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.
Residents have speculated that Gray’s wounds suggest that he was facing away from officers and therefore not a threat.
By Monday, Flatbush was enraged, with a mob of young people reportedly interrupting a vigil by running wildly into local businesses. Police said they arrested two people that day.
On Tuesday, another protest brought out a mostly calm crowd who returned Wednesday, anticipating that Gray’s mother would speak, said iReporter and professional photographer Joel Newport.
“She was supposed to be joined by other mothers of local shooting (victims),” he said.
But the hope that a mother might stand and speak and move a peaceful crowd was dashed when about 30 young men showed up across the street from the vigil, he said.
“They were not coming out of the shadow. They were staying in the dark area of the street. You just knew it was going to turn into the cops trying to contain those kids who were obviously gonna go for it,” Newport said. “That just stopped the original intention of the night.”
Newport begin to take photos, watching as kids crossed the street toward the protesters. Community leaders started shouting for everyone to calm down and asked anyone taking pictures to stop so they could talk to the young men and calm things down.
“These kids broke loose and took off. The police were caught off-guard,” Newport said. “Those kids really know the streets, and they’re spreading out and going down side streets away from the main street.”
Next came the sound of breaking glass and rolling trash cans. Businesses quickly pulled down their metal store-front security coverings.
One officer received a gash to his face while another was pushed off his scooter, police said.
Forty-six arrests were made, including two juveniles, police said, with the majority charged with disorderly conduct.
For days, Councilman Jumaane D. Williams has been speaking out in the community and asking on Twitter for those who are trying to make trouble at the vigils to stop.
“Please stay the HELL out of our community if will only agitate our kids,” he tweeted Wednesday. “It’s dangerous and counterproductive. Be responsible or STAY away!”
Several people responded angrily to that.
One person tweeted “Friends, family & the community came out to protest a police killing and you’re told them to be ‘disciplined’?”
CNN’s Mary Snow and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.