Crown Heights shooting victim’s family keeps up calls for NYPD transparency

The family of Saheed Vassell were joined by councilmembers and community groups in delivering thousands of petitions to City Hall Thursday that call for the release of more information more than two months after the Crown Heights man was fatally shot by police.

The family and advocates want the names of the four officers involved released, as well as all unedited videos of the shooting.

Eric Vassell, Saheed’s father, said he just wants the name of the officers “that murdered my son.

“We can’t have officers with bad conduct in our neighborhood because another life could be taken,” he said. “We just want the name of those officers so we… can be at peace.”

The family had called for the release of this information about a week after the shooting, rallying on the steps of City Hall.

Vassell, who suffered from mental health issues, was shot by four police officers in Crown Heights after they received several 911 calls of a man holding what appeared to be a possible firearm. Vassell had been brandishing a metal pipe on the street at the time.

When police approached Vassell, he took “a two-handed shooting stance,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at the time.

Days later, the NYPD released transcripts of three 911 calls along with a 49-second video of Vassell from three vantage points. The officers were not wearing body cameras at the time.

“We haven’t seen any more video that was promised to us by the mayor,” Eric Vassell said. “From this video we are not seeing no shiny object pointing at police.”

The city has said its policy on withholding the names of the officers involved in a fatal shooting ensures their safety while an investigation is underway.

However, Councilman Donovan Richards said that “if there’s nothing to hide,” the administration should release the officers’ names and any and all video.

“We’re here to say that without transparency there can be no accountability,” said Richards, the chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “And we are going to double down on our efforts with the family and with the advocates to make sure this happens.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams said he would expect more from the de Blasio administration.

“We are now worse than we were in previous administrations,” he said in relation to official transparency. “It is this administration that came in on a wave of police reform issues… There is no excuse now why city workers who murdered someone, names are not released.

“What matters here is this family, police reform, justice and accountability,” Williams said.

Vassell’s death is being investigated by the attorney general’s office under an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving the office the ability to take over cases in which an unarmed civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer, or where there are significant questions as to whether the civilian was armed and dangerous.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said Thursday that it has not objected to the release of the officers’ names or video.