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NYPD Fatally Shoot Mentally Ill Black Man

REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter

New York police fatally shot a bipolar black man Wednesday after mistakenly believing he was pointing a gun at them.

Five New York Police Department officers responded to a series of 911 phone calls about a man waving what people believed was a gun, the New York Daily News reported.

Police officers allege that when they showed up to the scene, the victim, identified as  Saheed Vassell, pointed what looked like a gun at them. It turned out that Vassell had been holding a silver pipe with a cylinder at one end.

“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers,” Police Chief Terence A. Monahan said during a news conference.

Four of the officers fired a total of 10 bullets at Vassell, Monahan added. Three of the officers were wearing street clothes, one of them was in a uniform and none of them had body cameras on them at the time, he went on.

Doctors pronounced Vassell dead after he was taken to Kings County Medical Center.

Vassell’s father said his son suffered from bipolar disorder and had been hospitalized due to his mental health issues in the past.

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