East Flatbush Unrest Continues Thursday Night; Kimani Gray's Mother: "I Don't Condone Any Riots"
After three nights of demonstrations in East Flatbush, the police were out in force Thursday evening.
Metal barricades were set up in front of businesses while officers lined the streets, stood guard on horseback and hovered above in a helicopter.
In the end, protesters clashed more with one another than they did with the cops.
- Tensions Mount After Police Fatally Shoot Brooklyn Teenager Kimani Gray
- Eyewitness "Certain" Kimani Gray Was Unarmed When Police Shot Him
- Police and Protesters Clash at Kimani Gray Vigil in Brooklyn
At issue was how to best respond to the death of Kimani "Kiki" Gray, a 16-year-old shot to death by two plainclothes police officers last weekend. It came down to a decision between a church and precinct.
Gray was shot shortly before 11:30 Saturday night. Police say the teen pointed a pistol at two plainclothes officers. Commissioner Ray Kelly earlier this week said the department has three "ear witnesses" who heard officers tell Gray to "freeze" and "don't move" before opening fire.
Meanwhile, the only civilian eyewitness to come forward in the case says she is "certain" Gray had nothing in his hands when he was shot. Multiple residents have claimed the teen begged for his life before he died, and many doubt the department's version of events.
While much of the public mourning over Gray's death takes place quietly at a makeshift memorial on the corner of Church Avenue and 55th, the last four nights have each seen protests in the streets with varying degrees of intensity.
On Monday night, a group of approximately 60 young people broke off from a larger march and rushed into a local pharmacy, destroyed displays, and assaulted a customer and an employee. Tuesday night the scene was considerably calmer, as a group of approximately 200 demonstrators marched to the NYPD's 67th precinct and dispersed without incident.
On Wednesday night, windows were smashed out of police vehicles, an officer was hit in the face with a brick, and dozens of people, some as young as 13, and including Gray's older sister, were arrested. Police used pepper spray on multiple occasions, and there were claims of young people being arrested while they were simply trying to go home.
Thursday the Daily News identified the officers involved in the Gray shooting as 30-year-old Sgt. Mourad Mourad and 26-year-old police officer Jovaniel Cordova.
An Egyptian immigrant from Staten Island, Mourad is an 8-year veteran of the force. In September 2011, he exchanged gunfire with a man in East Flatbush. The man, 30-year-old Jerry Benoit, was wounded but survived.
Mourad received the Assistant Chief Patrick D. Brennan Award for Patrol Borough Brooklyn South for his actions, and has since received "11 Excellent Police Duty citations and four Meritorious Police Duty citations." In 2008, however, he was written up for working with an unregistered informant and was placed on modified duty.
Cordova has been with the NYPD for five years and has no disciplinary record. In 2009 he received the 67th Precinct's Cop of the Month award after he chased down a man with a .357 magnum and shot him in the chin.
According to an internal NYPD report dated March 10, both Mourad and Cordova were wearing their badges around their necks the night Gray was shot, the Daily News reports.
The report says the officers pulled over when they saw Gray adjusting his waistband. They "identified themselves," the report says.
"Mr. Gray immediately drew a firearm and pointed it first at Police Officer Cordova and then at Sergeant Mourad, and then back at Police Officer Cordova," it states. The officers then fired 11 hollow-point bullets, striking Gray seven times, three times in the back and four times in the front.
Carol Gray, Kimani's mother, addressed the public for the first time Thursday.
Wrapped in black from head to toe and wearing large, dark sunglasses, Gray said, "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?"
"I just buried my oldest son a little over two years ago, to a car accident, and I haven't even found closure yet, and now I have to place my younger boy in the same hole that his older brother's in," she added.
"Take a look at my life, and understand what I'm saying to you," Gray said. "I'm the mother of a teen. A teen that's been a regular teen, as you say. They're young, they make stupid moves."
She denounced the unrest East Flatbush has seen in recent days.
"I don't condone any riots, any looting, any shooting, anything against any police officers," she said.
Police officers stood on a rooftop across the street from the vigil site Thursday night, watching as activists, residents and mourners argued about what to do. Some wanted to march to the 67th precinct to protest and others advocated for a pre-planned community meeting at local church.
The groups marched as one from the vigil but they didn't stay together long. Upon arriving to the New Horizon Gospel Ministries on Church Avenue, the crowd of approximately 200 came to a stop.
"If you're here for the community, go in the church," a man standing by its gated entrance repeated again and again.
"March! March! March!" chanted others. After approximately 10 minutes of heated exchanges, the crowd split in two.
Those who marched on to the precinct ended up in metal police pens when they arrived. They stood on a corner, shouting and chanting at the police. A bottle was thrown in the direction of the officers. Moments later the demonstrators dispersed on their own terms.
Another demonstration is planned for tonight.