New York, NY, April 5, 2018…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern and sadness after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in Brooklyn by four New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and welcomed the investigation launched by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office.

According to news reports, police fatally shot Saheed Vassell, who had suffered from mental illness, after mistaking a metal pipe he was holding for a gun.  Mr. Vassell’s death comes on the heels of heightened tensions and pain after the fatal shooting by police of Stephon Clark in Sacramento several weeks ago and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Evan R Bernstein, ADL New York Regional Director, issued the following statement:

“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and community of Mr. Vassell, and we hope that they find some comfort in knowing that so many of us share their grief.  This instance is all the more painful as we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy yesterday.  The impact of Mr. Vassell’s death reverberates far past the impacted families, friends, and local community.  It amplifies the pain we have seen in other instances of police killings of black people and those living with mental illness and disabilities, underscoring the importance of specialized interventions in challenging situations.  Each time, communities’ trust in the very people who took an oath to protect them is eroded and fear is stoked in the hearts people of color across the nation.  We welcome the independent investigation announced by the Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit and hope the investigation will be independent, fair, and comprehensive. And we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that systemic change finally becomes a reality.”

 

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.  Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all. Follow us on Twitter: @ADL_NY