Hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists and Brookyn community members held rallies Thursday night in the wake of the police shooting death of Saheed Vassell, a black Brooklyn man who was reportedly mentally ill.
Vassell, 34, was shot and killed Wednesday night by New York City police who mistakenly thought he had a gun, though Vassell was actually wielding a metal pipe. The rallies, held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, called for justice and police accountability. Signs read “you matter,” “stop shooting” and “not one more.” Protesters chanted “Justice for Saheed.”
People at the rally lit candles, left flowers and wrote messages like “RIP” and “I love you” on a large white board.
“They murdered my son and I want justice for him,” Lorna Vassell, his mother, said at the protest.
The family has demanded a coroner’s inquest.
Earlier Thursday, the New York State attorney general’s office said it would investigate the fatal shooting by police.
“We’re committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive and fair investigation,” Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement.
The death of Saheed Vassell on Wednesday was the latest fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by police, fueling more protests and heightening a nationwide debate over the use of excessive force by police and accusations of racial bias in the criminal justice system.