New York, NY— Thursday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemary Maldonado scheduled the NYPD disciplinary trial of Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis for their 2019 killing of Kawaski Trawick. Mr. Trawick was cooking at home in his Bronx apartment when Thompson and Davis broke the chain on his apartment door, tased him, and then killed him – within less than 112 seconds.
The disciplinary trial of Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis is scheduled to begin on April 24, 2023 and is believed to be only the 3rd disciplinary trial to be scheduled over the past decade against NYPD officers for their killing of a civilian. The other two NYPD trials of officers who have killed New Yorkers in the past decade were of Richard Haste for his 2012 killing of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham and Daniel Pantaleo for his 2014 killing of Eric Garner. While Pantaleo was fired by the NYPD, Haste resigned before he could be formally fired, after receiving the trial judge’s recommendation that he be terminated.
Following Thursday’s pre-trial court conference, Kawaski Trawick’s parents (Ellen and Rickie Trawick) were joined by elected officials, the Justice Committee, Communities United for Police Reform and other supporters at a rally announcing the disciplinary trial date and calling for the firing of Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis. Those at the rally also condemned the hardship that Kawaski Trawick’s family has had to endure over the past three and a half years, with both the obstruction and lack of timely action by NYC government and the police union allowing the disciplinary trial to be stalled for so long. Elected officials who joined the Trawicks included NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, NYC Councilmember Pierina Sanchez, NYC Councilmember Tiffany Cabán and NYC Councilmember Crystal Hudson.
“Finally, after three and a half years of fighting, a trial date has been set,” said Ellen Trawick, mother of Kawaski Trawick. “We will be here every day of the trial, even though we have to miss work and we live far away, because Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis need to be fired and we want to make sure the Mayor and the NYPD know we are watching. We’re calling on New Yorkers to join us and we won’t rest until both officers are fired for murdering our son.”
“We’re glad to finally have a trial date, but this is far from over,” said Rickie Trawick, father of Kawaski Trawick. “By the time the trial starts, it’ll be more than four years since my son, Kawaski, was murdered by the NYPD. My wife and I shouldn’t have to take days off from work and fly to New York four years after Officers Thompson and Davis murdered my son – they should have already been fired.”
“The levels of disrespect, disregard and the lack of remorse from the officers, their police union attorneys and the NYPD is outrageous,” said Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee, a part of Communities United for Police Reform. “Kawaski’s family has stood strong through three and a half years of delays and roadblocks. The trial date is a step forward, but these officers should have been fired the day they illegally entered Kawaski’s apartment, tased him unprovoked, shot him, and left him to die on the floor. The ridiculously long timeline and delays are part of what happens in every one of these cases – it’s how the City and NYPD protect officers instead of New Yorkers. It’s meant to wear down families and New Yorkers and to keep us from fighting. Any further delays are completely unacceptable. Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Sewell must ensure this process moves forward and they must fire Officers Thompson and Davis for killing Kawaski.”
“The fight for accountability in the death of Kawaski Trawick has now spanned more than three years and now two administrations, and still there have been efforts to avoid even the scheduling of a trial, prolonging pain and increasing hardship,” said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “Justice has already been too long delayed, but it cannot now be denied. Both officers contributed to this tragedy – including by escalating the circumstances that led to the shooting and failing to adequately act to save Trawick’s life after the trigger was pulled. Both must be accountable. As we continue to work toward protecting and producing public safety, it is impossible to make progress without accountability for past injustices. I hope that the coming trial yields consequences, and some semblance of accountability for the family of Kawaski Trawick who faces their loss today and every day for over three years.”
“One name is too many. One smile gone is a pain too deep,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “Yet, we are gathered, almost four years later, in solidarity and support of a family who lost their son, their brother, their baby – when two officers who interacted with him for less than two minutes, killed him. Kawaski came to New York City from Georgia chasing a dream. The CCRB has substantiated fireable charges against Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis, yet nearly four years following the murder of Kawaski Trawick, both these officers remain on payroll at NYPD. This is a gross and unacceptable regression from accountability, and this City must do better. I am calling for the firing of the two officers responsible. A disciplinary trial is long overdue, these officers must face consequences for their actions.”
On April 14, 2019, 32-year-old Kawaski Trawick was accidentally locked out of his apartment while cooking, at Hill House, a supportive housing facility in the Bronx. Mr. Trawick called 911 and was let back into his apartment by FDNY. Unbeknownst to Mr. Trawick, Hill House staff members also called 911, requested the NYPD, and reported that he was in emotional distress.
By the time NYPD Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis arrived, Mr. Trawick was safely back in his apartment and had resumed cooking. Officer Davis broke the chain on Mr. Trawick’s door with his baton to illegally gain entry. The officers escalated the situation by shouting orders and pointing a taser and a gun at Mr. Trawick. Officer Thompson tased Mr. Trawick without cause, and then shot and killed him within 112 seconds of the NYPD’s arrival. The NYPD sensationalized the fact that Mr. Trawick was holding a bread knife to justify the shooting, in spite of the fact that he was holding the knife for the purpose of cooking. After shooting Mr. Trawick, neither officer attempted to administer emergency medical aid and instead left him to bleed out on his apartment floor.
In June 2021, the CCRB voted to substantiate fireable charges against Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis.
For more than a year, the Trawick family has been calling on the CCRB and NYPD to schedule the disciplinary trial and for Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Keechant Sewell to fire both Officers Thompson and Davis. The first pre-trial court conference in October was adjourned to today as the result of a last minute delay tactic by Officer Thompson’s police union attorney.
Kawaski was a Black gay man, a son, and a brother, who was pursuing his dreams as a dancer, teacher, and entrepreneur in New York City.
About the Justice Committee:
Since the 1980s, the Justice Committee (JC) has been dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in New York City. The heart of our work is organizing and uplifting the leadership of families who have lost loved ones to the police and survivors of police violence. We empower our community to deter police violence, hold law enforcement accountable, and build people-led community safety through grassroots organizing campaigns, community empowerment, political education, our CopWatch program, and by developing safety mechanisms and projects that decrease reliance on police. By building solidarity with other anti-racist, immigrant and people of color-led organizations, the Justice Committee seeks to contribute to a broad-based movement for racial, social, and economic justice.
About Communities United for Police Reform:
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory and abusive policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.