Cops fatally shoot man holding metal pipe who has mental health problems

A man who has mental health problems was shot and killed by 4 NYPD officers who were responding to multiple reports of a man with a gun on the street, officials said.

The man, in fact, was holding a metal pipe, the New York Police Chief Terence Monahan said.

Police officers responded to the intersection of Utica Avenue and Montgomery Street, in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, after few people called 911 about a man with a gun around 4:40 p.m. KTLA5 reported.

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Three separate callers had described a man brandishing a firearm and pointing it at others on the street, and surveillance footage from businesses on Utica Avenue corroborate this, Monahan said.

The man, Saheed Vassell, was “known to be a man with mental health problems” and had been classified by NYPD as “emotionally disturbed” following previous encounters, the New York Times reported.

Once police officers located Vassell, he took a “two-handed shooting stance” and pointed the pipe he was holding at the 5 officers approaching him, according to Monahan.



4 of the officers fired their weapons, unloading 10 rounds in total. It’s unclear how many times Vassell was struck.

He was taken to the nearby Kings County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Monahan said.

2 of the officers were in uniform, while the other 3 were in plainclothes. None was equipped with a body cam.

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Vassell’s father, Eric Vassell, told the New York Times that his son was 34 and had his own son, who is 15. He also said Saheed had bipolar disorder and previously had been taken to the hospital after encounters with police.

Eric also told the New York Times he had never witnessed his son mimicking having a handgun; rather, he said, Saheed would “just walk around the neighborhood and help people.”

Monahan noted that law enforcement’s information was preliminary, and the incident is under investigation.

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