Father of Man Killed by NYPD While Holding a Pipe Says His Son Was Mentally Ill

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9546992a)
This photo provided by the New York Police Department shows a metal object at the scene where police officers fatally shot a man who was reported to be threatening people with a gun, which turned out to be a metal pipe that police mistook for a firearm, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Saheed Vassell, 34, was killed, in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to The New York Times, police had encountered him before and classified him as emotionally disturbed
Police Shooting Brooklyn, New York, USA – 05 Apr 2018

The father of a man killed by police officers in Brooklyn said his son was bipolar and wasn’t taking his medication, but was not dangerous and didn’t deserve to die.

Saheed Vassell, 34, was fatally shot Wednesday evening in Brooklyn by police officers responding to multiple 911 calls about a man threatening people with a gun.

The officers who rushed to the scene encountered Vassell holding a metal object in his hand. In security camera images released by the police, the L-shaped length of pipe looked remarkably like a firearm. Vassell brandished it like a weapon, too, extending his arm and pointing the short-barreled object at several people, causing some to cower in apparent fright.

When Vassell pointed the object at the arriving officers in what police officials described as a “two-handed shooting stance,” four opened fire, shooting a combined 10 times.

Vassell’s father, Eric, told reporters after the shooting that his son had been hospitalized several times for psychiatric problems, some involving encounters with the police, but was polite and kind.

“Police had a choice. They always have a choice. They should not train them to kill. They should train them to protect life, to save life,” Eric Vassell said in an interview with WABC-TV.

A tense crowd gathered after the shooting, with some people shouting at officers and decrying the killing as another example of an unarmed black man being killed by police officers who overreacted.

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SOURCE: TIME; The Associated Press, Tom Hays