New York City police officers shot and killed a bipolar man Black man who was waving a metal pipe in Brooklyn, NY after mistaking it for a gun on Thursday.
Family members have identified the slain man as 34-year old Saheed Vassell. Officers said that Vassell “took a two-handed shooting stance” and pointed the metal object at them, the New York Daily News reports.
“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers,” said NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan at a press conference.
Four officers fired 10 shots at Vassell, hitting him multiple times, the chief said.
Officers confirmed that a gun was not found at the scene and that Vassell was holding “a metal pipe with a knob on the end.”
A witness of the shooting told the Daily News that when officers arrived they did not give a warning and started firing at Vassell.
“They just hopped out of the car. It’s almost like they did a hit. They didn’t say please. They didn’t say put your hands up, nothing,” Jaccbot Hinds, 40, said.
Vassell left behind his 15-year old son, Tyshawn, who told the Daily News his father was a loving and caring man.
“He’s always been there for me no matter what,” Tyshawn said. “He’d always come check up on me, ask me if I’m good.”
Vassell’s father, Eric Vassell, told the Daily News that his son struggled with bipolar for many years, but did not seek treatment.
“He hasn’t taken his medication for years,” he said. “We were always worried for him. We would say should anything happen to him, we just have to do what we can do.”
Chief Monahan confirmed that none of the officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the incident.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.