NY attorney general investigates after police kill black man holding metal pipe

New York police shoot and kill Brooklyn man carrying metal pipe

Hundreds of people rallied in New York City on Thursday evening to call for justice for Saheed Vassell, an unarmed black man who was shot by police the day before.

Muslim leaders and their lawyers say a settlement of legal claims that the New York City Police Department illegally spied on Muslims empowers them to prevent alleged abuse.

The Washington Post reported that police confronted Vassell in response to several 911 calls about a man brandishing what callers reportedly believed was a gun in the area where he was fatally shot.

Near the end of the video, Vassell can be seen approaching an intersection and pointing the object toward the street.

On Thursday, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it was opening an investigation into Vassell's death.

"We're committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive and fair investigation", Schneiderman said in a tweet Thursday.

In the hours after the shooting, anger and sadness swept through Crown Heights, the neighborhood where he spent most of his life and where residents say he was a well-known - and well-liked - figure.

"He hasn't taken his medication for years", Eric Vassell, the victim's father, said.

The NYPD, which admitted no wrongdoing under settlement, had pursued an aggressive surveillance program after the September 11, 2001 attacks that sent undercover officers into Muslim neighborhoods, organizations and mosques.

His family and neighbors said that he was a familiar figure on the street corner and was known to be mentally ill, even by local police.

The New York Police Department has agreed to not engage in surveillance on the basis of religion or ethnicity as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that challenged its monitoring of Muslims at mosques, schools, and businesses in New Jersey in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Monahan held up an image of the scene captured seconds before the officers approached Vassell, and said surveillance video along the street corroborated the officers' account of what happened.

The fatal confrontation between the officers and Mr. Vassell lasted less than 10 seconds, according to a senior police official. 'He speaks to himself, usually he has an orange Bible or a rosary in his hand.

Vassell's father, Eric Vassell, told the New York Times that his son, a welder, had moved to the United States from Jamaica when he was 6. "He was a good person, he wasn't a bad person", said one of Vassell's friend, Alex Willie. A former member of the Newark police department who worked in close coordination with the NYPD said the Demographic Unit may have been dissolved, but its tactics are still being used. He has no issue with violence. "I just want everyone to know that I want justice for Saheed", she told the crowd.

Wilson said he was surprised and shocked it would come to this.

The shooting comes after the police killing of an unarmed black man on March 18 in Sacramento, California, sparked two weeks of protests and calls for police reform.

In a statement on its website, the City of NY and the NYPD say that in the settlement they did not admit to any violation of law or misconduct.

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