NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill
Eric Vassell, is calling for the arrest and prosecution of the four men identified as the officers of the New York Police Department who shot his son Saheed to death four months ago.
“We shouldn’t have to wait sixteen weeks for media leaks to find out the names of the NYPD officers who murdered my son Saheed. And my family shouldn’t have to keep waiting for the police department and attorney general to complete their investigations when it took the police less than 24 hours to declare that my son’s killing was justified,” Vassell said. “It adds to my family’s pain to learn that in all of this time, none of the four officers have been assigned to modified duty, even while the NYPD claims they are still conducting their investigation. The message this sends is that the investigation of the four officers who recklessly killed my son in a hail of at least 10 bullets in broad daylight is a sham, meant simply to protect these officers instead of attempting to uncover the truth.”
He called the so-called NYPD’s investigation a “sham” and called for release of more information about the killing.
“We are still demanding that Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD and the attorney general let us view all unedited footage they have collected of the officers and the incident,” he added. “We demand to know why the Strategic Response Group was among those who responded. And we call on the attorney general’s office to move forward to indict and prosecute the four officers for the reckless murder of my son.”
“The NYPD should have immediately released the names of all the officers responsible for killing Saheed Vassell back in April, instead of releasing selectively edited video meant to criminalize Saheed and justify the killing,” said Mark Winston-Griffith, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center, a grassroots community organization in central Brooklyn that has worked closely with the Vassell family to seek justice for Saheed. “This is not transparency, and learning that none of the officers were put on modified duty while the NYPD and attorney general’s office are still conducting their investigations makes it seem that the de Blasio administration is more interested in protecting officers who kill unarmed New Yorkers than seeking truth or protecting Saheed’s Crown Heights community.”
“Saheed Vassell was a father, son, brother and a beloved member of his Brooklyn community and he should still be with us today,” Winston-Griffith said.
The officers identified in media accounts as the ones involved in killing Vassell are: Bekim Molic, Leon Dinham, Anthony Bottiglieri, and Omar Rafiq.
Bottiglieri and Molic are White; Dinham is Black and Rafiq. Reportedly all the officers fired at the victim. The NYPD claim a pipe Vassell was holding resembled a gun.
Except for Rafiq, the officers are from the 71 Precinct.