Kimani “Kiki” Gray (c. 1996-2013) was gunned down and killed at age 16 in front of his best friend’s house by plain clothes policemen on the streets of East Flatbush, Brooklyn in New York City. He was killed Saturday night, March 9th 2013, when he was coming back from a party with six of his friends. At least four days of angry, sometimes violent, protests have followed.
The police account and that of eyewitnesses are different on important points. The police said they wore badges and said they were the police, that Gray pointed a gun at them. Eyewitnesses say Gray was empty handed, that the police did not wear badges nor said who they were. Their car was not a police car. Eyewitnesses call Gray and his friends “kids”, the police called them a group of “men”.
The police say Gray “adjusted his waistband” in “a suspicious manner.” Seeing this they stopped their car and got out for an apparent “stop and frisk” to check him for a gun. They say Gray pointed a gun at them and they opened fire. An unfired .38 calibre pistol was later found at the scene.
The police officers, Sgt Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, have a record of falsifying evidence. They have shot people before, but never killed anyone. Mourad has had three lawsuits brought against him, Cordova, two. The NYPD settled the lawsuits out of court for $215,000, admitting to no wrongdoing. Both officers are decorated. They are now on desk duty.
They shot at Gray 11 times, four shots hit him in front, three in back, not necessarily in that order. Eyewitnesses say Gray was adjusting his belt, not pulling out a gun.
Even after Gray was down, a police officer was right over him and kept shooting.
Gray lay screaming:
Help me. Help me. My stomach is burning. Help me. They shot me.
He’s my angel, and my baby, and he was slaughtered, and I want to know why. After the first shot, why the second bullet, why the third bullet?
Ramarley Graham’s mother at one of the protests:
When are they going to start protecting us and stop killing our kids?
Vigils turned into protests, sometimes violent ones. They threw bricks and bottles at the police. They shouted “NYPD KKK!” They trashed a Rite-Aid pharmacy. The police were in riot gear. They were on horses. They were in helicopters overhead.
Older, wiser heads from the neighbourhood try to calm down the protesters to prevent an outright riot. The protesters themselves are mostly young people, they have no leader to speak for them, they are boiling over with anger with no useful way to express it.
Demands: an independent investigation with the policemen brought to justice.
East Flatbush is mostly West Indian and working-class. Gray’s mother, for example, came from Jamaica, his father from Guyana. East Flatbush is no stranger to police brutality: just last year Shantel Davis, unarmed, was shot dead by police in broad daylight.
- Alan Blueford – very similar case in Oakland
- Kenneth Chamberlain
- Rekia Boyd
- Oscar Grant
- Phantom Negro Weapons – the weapon of choice for gunned-down black people
- racial profiling
- The 1967 Detroit Riot