Brooklyn, NY – Police released 911 call transcripts and surveillance videos from nearby businesses that clearly showed a man walking through the community on Tuesday, holding what appeared to be a silver firearm, and pointing it at people (video below).
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said they received “several 911 calls of a man pointing what was described as a silver firearm at people on the street.”
NYPD released transcripts of calls they received from shopkeepers and people on the street who saw Saheed Vassell, 34, behaving bizarrely and pointing his gun at people.
They also released surveillance videos captured from multiple businesses along Vassell’s route.
In the first video clip, Vassell aggressively approached strangers on the sidewalk and pointed something silver metal object at them.
In the next video clip, he approached a woman and child, and pointed his arm, as though he had a gun, at the woman’s head.
In the third video, Vassell walked right up to another man on the street and held the item to the man’s chest.
Police said the last piece of surveillance footage, which showed Vassell storming onto a street corner, and taking up a shooting stance, holding his weapon out in front of himself with both hands, captured the moment when officers fired at the man.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said, “The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers,” according to New York Daily News.
“At this point, responding officers discharged their weapons,” police said.
Police received multiple 911 calls from passersby who witnessed the man threatening people with what they thought was a gun.
“There is a guy in a brown jacket walking around pointing – I don’t know, (to someone else) what is he pointing in people’s faces? They say it’s a gun. It’s silver,” one caller told the dispatcher.
Another caller said “he looks like he’s crazy, but he’s pointing something at people that looks like a gun and he’s like popping it as if he’s pulling the trigger.”
One call was from the proprietor of a laundromat, who told the dispatcher that the man was outside her store and that he had a gun in his hand.
“Caller states a male was pointing a gun at people. Third party caller. I have a description for a male black, with brown jacket, blue jeans, black and white sneakers,” the dispatcher told responding officers as they approached the scene.
Four officers fired a total of 10 shots at the suspect. The officers provided first aid and the suspect was transported to the hospital where he died.
The object that the suspect pointed at the officers was later identified as a pipe, according to WABC.
"This was not an [emotionally disturbed person] call... this was a call of a man pointing what 911 callers felt was a gun at people on the street," Chief Monahan said, according to WABC. "When we encounter him he turns with what appears to be a gun at the officers. We have to stay straight on the facts with this incident today."
None of the officers on scene were equipped with body cameras, but the chief showed an image from a surveillance camera which showed the suspect in a shooting stance.
Despite three callers reporting a gun being pointed at people, and the suspect pointed what appeared to be a gun at police, people have been expressing outrage over the shooting.
"It's almost like they did a hit," witness Jack Hinds told WABC. "They didn't say 'freeze,' they didn't say 'put your hands up,' they didn't say 'stop for a minute.' They just started shooting."
Local community members told New York Daily news that the suspect was well-known and mentally disturbed.
Protesters were gearing up for a large rally at NYPD’s 71st Precinct on Wednesday night, near where the shooting occurred.
“Join us to call for justice and accountability in the death of Saheed 'Sy' Vassell, who was gunned down by the NYPD in broad daylight in #CrownHeights yesterday,” the protest flyers by Brooklyn Movement read.
You can see the latest surveillance video release below: