News Headlines

Mentally Ill Teen Gunned Down by NYPD

Protest in the streets

A driver holds up her fist with men marching to the New York City Police Department's 79th Precinct the morning after an area youth was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn, New York. Spencer Platt, Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Spencer Platt, Getty Images

News Headlines: Nov. 14, 2007

Talk About It:
New York Times: A Troubled Man and 20 Police Bullets in Brooklyn — "A troubled 18-year-old man. A furious family argument inside a first-floor Brooklyn apartment. A 911 call. Then, in the darkness, 20 bullets fired by five police officers. The 18-year-old is fatally wounded. The police say he was holding a hairbrush."

Photos: Residents React

Should police have used deadly force? How much does race play a role in this incident?

On today's show, Farai spoke with Amsterdam News reporter Josh Baker and criminology professor David A. Klinger for more on the case.

Los Angeles Times: Many Blacks Fault Individuals for Lack of Success

AP: 14 Blackwater Shootings Reportedly Unjustified

Washington Post: GOP Primary Story Stars a Democratic Antagonist

New York Times: Spitzer Drops His Driver's License Plan

New York Observer: Imus Returns Dec. 3 With 21-Second Delay

Los Angeles Times: Surgery or Anesthesia Cited In West's Death

Newsday: Marbury Leaves Knicks on Road Trip

AP: Pakistan Leader to Quit Army This Month

BBC: Black Youngsters 'Key to Oxford'

Christian Science Monitor: To Save Africa: A Missing Step

Health & Science:
Los Angeles Times: Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say

Reuters: STD Rates Rise for Blacks

John Ridley: Michelle Obama and the Slumbering Black Masses



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

For less than 24 hours I've been outraged by all these killings of black men in the hands of those who are called to serve and protect them. This situation is not only happening in Brooklyn; there's a protest over two 21 year old un-armed black men shot and killed by the police and their lady friend shot in the leg in Miami. ""

Imagine my surprise, getting home late last night and on CNN, I'm watching the news about the 14 year old Brooklyn Boy. Afterwards, I watched a fictional account about a similar story on one of my favorite shows, "Boston Legal." How ironic is that? Only for the local late news right after "Boston Legal" to give me a breaking news about police shootings and the community protest as the number one story. It's no surprise I needed a little more sleep than usual for a headache I developed after the day's events.

Sent by Moji | 12:19 PM | 11-14-2007

We've become so desensitized to the rampant violence against black men in this country, in this case, the recent fatal shooting of the teenager in Brooklyn, NY. These occurrences have become so casual it seems, and they render us rather numb to it all, and thus, ineffectual in any attempts to bring about change, which is rather unfortunate. I don't know what the answer to all this is, but clearly, something needs to be done here. If young white men were dropping at the hands of law enforcement officers at the same rate as young black men currently are, those in power will likely make it a cause celebre, and policy will be introduced and ratified to do what is necessary to bring an end to the madness. I feel like a broken record??? it all feels like several broken records??? we???ve heard all this before??? Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al, will take to the streets, as they usually do after incidents like these ??? as they certainly should. But nothing really seems to change despite all the effort. It???s simultaneously numbing and enraging! We, black men, are practically sub-human.

Sent by Tambay A Obenson | 1:44 PM | 11-14-2007

Sounds like suicide by cop to me.

I'm terribly sorry that he lost his life. I'm equally sorry that his mental illness had him behaving dangerously: committing armed robberies in which he struck his victims; yelling "I got a gun and I'm gonna shoot you," while his mother was on the phone with the 911 operator; and putting a tape dispenser in his pocket and telling his mother 'I'm prepared to die."

Dispatchers relayed the code 10-52 (family dispute with firearm) to warn the officers for their safety as well as that of bystanders. Here are the final moments (from the report Farai included: we should all read it).

At 7:07 p.m., two uniformed officers from the 79th Precinct arrived at Ms. Owens's apartment at 590 Gates Avenue. They found the door to Apartment 1D ajar and saw Mr. Coppin holding two knives, one in each hand, in the hallway between the front door and a back bedroom.

The officers ushered out Ms. Owens and her 11-year-old daughter. Ms. Owens told them that her son "was armed with knives, but not a gun," Mr. Kelly said.

Mr. Coppin, however, told the officers he had a gun. As they approached him, he lunged toward the officers with the knives and yelled, "Shoot me, kill me," Mr. Kelly said.

Mr. Coppin then retreated to a back bedroom as the officers went the other way, to an outside hallway, where they met two detectives.

Mr. Coppin peeked periodically from behind the bedroom door, showing a knife or holding something under his sweatshirt while saying he was armed. "At one point, he yelled at the officers, 'Come get me, I have a gun, let's do this,'" Mr. Kelly said.

At 7:08, the officers called the emergency service unit, whose officers are trained in the use of nonlethal restraining equipment and tactics.

At 7:17, Capt. Charles McEvoy, the second in command at the 79th Precinct, joined the four officers in the hallway.

Captain McEvoy called for the hostage negotiation team. A lieutenant on the scene also called for technical assistance and response unit. In the next moments, the officers in the hallway heard Mr. Coppin moving a gate that covered the bedroom window. Officers in the street began yelling that Mr. Coppin was going out the window.

At 7:18, a sergeant on the scene reported Mr. Coppin's location outside the window over the radio. Mr. Coppin dropped four feet to the sidewalk. He walked through an exterior gate and marched toward officers in front of the building -- officers who had not been facing him inside. Captain McEvoy ordered five officers in front of the building -- two officers and a sergeant from the housing bureau, and a sergeant and detective from the 79th Precinct -- to back up and take cover, which they did, behind police cars.

Mr. Coppin ignored the orders to stop, show his hands and get down on the ground.

"He just kept walking toward the officers," said Beverly Holloman, 50, who watched the police as Mr. Coppin climbed out a window three floors below hers. "He wasn't saying anything."

Witnesses said Mr. Coppin had his right hand under his black sweatshirt and was holding an object, with his left hand on top of his right hand. He reached under his sweatshirt, pulled out the object and pointed it in the officers' direction as if he were aiming a gun, Mr. Kelly said.

Sent by | 5:00 PM | 11-14-2007

"It should never happen again", and yet the death toll keeps on rising for young blacks. I said recently that this "Zero tolerance is coming to a neighborhood of color, near you.", well this is the result. The police in conjunction with county and state police, use jack-boot Nazi tactics on targeted communities. Representatives have convinced citizens that these tactics produce positive results until it hits close to home. Over-kill! You never of it happening anywhere else, except Iraq. The NYPD incident is no different than what happened with the Blackwater security company. It's intimidate, harass, shoot first and get your stories together. The really scary thing though is that I sit in classes at a community college with criminal justice students. Some of the young men and women are too scared to go to Iraq, however, can't wait to go through the academy get out on the streets and do their killing in a more controlled environment. Like Brooklyn, their enemy only has a hairbrush!

Sent by c | 7:59 PM | 11-14-2007

"The police in conjunction with county and state police, use jack-boot Nazi tactics on targeted communities."

As a resident of the black community, I'll take the so called "jack-boot Nazi tactics" over the bandana wearing thugs up the street who have now replaced the Ku Klux Klan as terrorists of black folks.

Sent by Al From Bay Shore | 8:21 PM | 11-14-2007

There's a problem with cases like this and it's that we often use race to justify horrible personal decisions. We need to be responsible for those actions and admit that we could be wrong and in this case extremely wrong if you choose to see this as an unwarranted shooting. With the behavior displayed here he may have been a threat to his own family let alone the citizens of his own neighborhood; after all his own mother called the police first. Many times we neglect metal health in our communities because of shame, or depend on the sick to use determination to bail themselves out, but this can obviously lead to tragic results especially when those involved are living in potentially volatile areas. Our outcry then becomes, where were the police or; was there anyway this could've been prevented, please Remember VIRGINIA TECH?

Sent by Mr. Politics | 9:41 PM | 11-14-2007

"Threat to his family"! What was he going to do, brush them to death? Mr. politics, you sound just like one of those representatives who sold the communities on this zero tolerence crap! Weed out the bad, if one or two good gets killed, well, it's just collateral damage. Oh and Al from Bay Shore, if you are a person of color, get help. You sound like a self hater. If you're not a person of color, well, anyone who read your comment can read between the lines.

Sent by C | 10:35 PM | 11-14-2007

"Oh and Al from Bay Shore, if you are a person of color, get help. You sound like a self hater. If you're not a person of color, well, anyone who read your comment can read between the lines."

does the "C" stand for cliche? Self hating? What's next, "Uncle Tom"? "House Negro"? "Sellout"? Your comments and cliches have validated my suspicions. As a resident of the black community (by choice), I am troubled by the fact that you have absolutely no clue what is happening here. I mean that whole black on black crime thing. I don't worry about the cops, its the thugs up the street but I understand how your types think - black life only has value when whites are involved. When a black person is killed by another black person, the victim is not really important.

I bet that you can rattle off a litany of black folks who have, in some way, been a victim of something connected to white people. I wonder if you can tell me who Danielle Baker is? Do you know who Ramona Moore is? What about Annijiah Rolax? Probably not. They were black people killed by other black people but in your mind, their lives are meaningless.

Who is the real self hater?

Sent by Al From Bay Shore | 4:10 PM | 11-15-2007

In addition to my previous comment above... Why aren't any less fatal tactics utilized to temporarily disable a potential threat to law enforcement officers? In a case like this, especially given the recent rash of tasing of civilians by officers, something like a long range taser, for example, would have simply rendered the young man temporarily harmless, likely fallen to the ground, allowing officers to approach him and arrest him.

Some animals are afforded more respect than this. Rampaging bears, for example, are shot with tranquilizer guns that subdue them temporarily; PETA would be enraged if bullets were used instead, killing the bears. Michael Vick's dogs got more sympathy.

Law enforcement departments must implement new tactics that would reduce the occurrences of unnecessary deaths like this.

Sent by Tambay A Obenson | 8:39 PM | 11-15-2007


NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from