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“We are paying you guys to protect the children, not to kill the children!”

Kimani Gray

People in Flatbush, Brooklyn held a vigil last night in memorium of 16 year old resident Kimani Gray, who was killed by NYPD officers over the weekend. The vigil turned into a protest, with community members making speeches about NYPD violence in their community and chanting slogans like "NYPD, KKK/How many kids did you kill today?"

The media has described subsequent incidents of property destruction in the neighborhood as a "riot." Russia Today reported that during the protest, "police followed the march and searched apartment buildings in the neighborhood without warrants, looking for children who had been seen throwing bottles at police from neighborhood rooftops."

The NYPD is telling the press that the plainclothes officers who rolled up on Kimani Gray and put 11 bullets into him only started firing after the youth produced a gun and pointed it at them. But people who witnessed the event told reporters a very different story:

Family and friends have called the department's version of events into question and maintain the boy everyone knew as 'Kiki' was a good kid.
 
Gray's sister, Mahnefah Gray, 19, told the New York Times that she never knew her little brother to carry a gun, and even if he did, he would know better than to point it at police.
 
"He has common sense," she said.
 
Sharon Smith lives across the street from the scene of the shooting and claims she "saw everything."
 
Gray and others were smoking marijuana on a stoop when a vehicle pulled up, Smith says.
 
"I was in my bedroom window smoking a cigarette," Smith said. "Next thing I know, I saw a vehicle pulled up. When he pulled up they all jumped out the vehicle. When they jumped out of the vehicle everybody dispersed off the stoop."
 
Smith claims approximately ten seconds passed before the shots began.
 
"They was like 'freeze, freeze, freeze.' But they just kept running and they just started shooting; 'pow! pow! pow!' I ducked," Smith said. "When I got up I heard somebody say, 'They just shot Kiki! They just shot Kiki!'"
 
Smith said her daughter was outside when the shooting took place. "[She] heard him say 'don't kill me, don't kill me.' And they say 'stay still' or they going to shoot you again."
 
"When I got back up I saw all these police cars coming down 52nd Street. Coming down the block, coming down the block," Smith added. While police say they found the gun near Gray's body, Smith doesn't believe it. "Then they went from house to house, house to house. Looking, looking, looking."
 
Another woman who lives on the block where Gray was shot, a mother of three who declined to give her name, claimed the police did not order Gray to freeze.
 
"I was at my window and I heard him screaming, 'Don't shoot me. Don't shoot me. I'm not running,'" she said.
 
"From I heard the first shot, I look through my window," the woman added. "They didn't say 'freeze police.' They didn't say that."

The NYPD killed 19 people in 2012, up from 13 in 2011. You can watch video from last night's protest below.

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© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.