BROOKLYN (April 6, 2018)  – New York City police officers shot Saheed Vassell yesterday afternoon, firing ten shots at the unarmed, 34-year-old Black man, who also suffered mental health challenges. Officers claimed he had a gun, which later turned out to be a metal pipe. His family are questioning the use of force as the state’s Attorney General’s Office says it is investigating the deadly shooting.

His death came less than three weeks after police in Sacramento, Calif., fatally shot a 22-year-old black man, Stephon Clark in the mistaken belief that he was also holding a gun, which turned out to be a cellphone.

Both of these incidents have sparked nationwide outage.  Leadership at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, issued the following statements today:

“What happens to the NYPD protocol for dealing with mentally ill people in distress? Police need to consider other alternatives than killing in a crisis. CLSJ calls for an independent investigation. The Special Prosecutor needs to investigate this case.”

Esmeralda Simmons, Founder and Executive Director

“The killing of Saheed Vassell shows the dangerous intersection of policing, race and mental health crisis. In light of the recent police killing of Deborah Danner in the Bronx, who also suffered with mental health challenges, it is clear that the current NYPD trainings and protocols are not enough to keep New Yorkers of color safe.”

Lurie Daniel Favors, General Counsel


The Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ):

The mission and vision of CLSJ is to provide quality advocacy, training, and expert services in a personal manner to people of African descent and the disenfranchised. CLSJ seeks to accomplish its mission by conducting research, and initiating advocacy projects and litigation on behalf of community organizations and groups that promote human, national, and international understanding. For additional information please visit:


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