NYPD Guns Down Teen The recent shooting of 18-year-old Khiel Coppin by the New York City Police Department has some residents crying injustice. Coppin, who was described as being mentally ill, approached police holding a hairbrush, saying he was carrying a gun.
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NYPD Guns Down Teen

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NYPD Guns Down Teen

NYPD Guns Down Teen

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From NPR News, this is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

The New York Police Department is in hot water, and a Brooklyn neighborhood is heated, after police shot and killed a neighborhood teen.

On Monday night, five police officers fired 20 rounds at Khiel Coppin. Officers say the 18-year-old told them he had a gun. What Khiel was actually pulling from under his shirt was a hairbrush. The teenager reportedly had mental problems. His brother Joel spoke to the press yesterday.

Mr. JOEL COPPIN: We want justice for Khiel of any - for every one black man at Inner City never go through this again.

CHIDEYA: Here to give us more on the story is Josh Barker, a reporter for the New York Amsterdam News.


Mr. JOSH BARKER (Reporter, New York Amsterdam News): Thank you for having me today.

CHIDEYA: So, we're still learning more about the case. We do know that the young man's mother called 911 to report a family altercation with a gun. What can you tell us more about the inciting incident?

Mr. BARKER: Well, I can tell you that, first, the people in the neighborhood are outraged. And it's not just that neighborhood, there's several predominantly black neighborhoods here in New York City including Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Harlem. And it's really more of the concept of being fed up with this problem that keeps happening at least once every month as it's turning out to happen, where police officers are shooting a black man. And it's just an ongoing problem that people are just basically fed up with.

You know, I talked to several people who live in the neighborhood and say that officers are constantly patrolling the area and constantly stopping them. You know, I talked to a one young man yesterday who spoke with - not actually spoke with - who witnessed of the incident saying that, you know, after he witnessed the young man being shot by the police officers, he confronted the police officers and asked them, you know, why did you shoot this person. And then they, in turn, you know, went after him. So, you know, it's an ongoing problem.

CHIDEYA: Well, let me ask this. I mean, New York City Police Department has intermittently gotten into conflicts with the black community…

Mr. BARKER: Mm-hmm.

CHIDEYA: …or with African-Americans over whether or not shootings were justified. Where do people go from here, in addition to their being, you know, an individual investigation?

Mr. BARKER: Well, I can say that, you know, a lot of the black leaders here in New York City is - with this particular incident, are telling the people to calm down, to find out all the facts first, and then take a course of action. Several of the black leaders yesterday held a press conference at the crime scene for the media, and just informed black people to just, you know, wait for other facts to come out and then we'll take action.

But there have been a number of anti-police brutality rallies here in New York City. One, in particular, that happened on October 22nd in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, where a large group of people as well as the parents of people who have been victimized by police gathered and just told their stories of police shootings. And it was just very touching to see these people.

Basically, it's just camaraderie of most people. The best thing that people can do out here is just to, you know, they're all for learning their rights. That's the main thing is just learning their rights about the police and what the - if an officer confronts them, what they should do and what they shouldn't do. So that's just a solution to the problem that blacks are doing on that end. So…

CHIDEYA: Very briefly, you work for a black newspaper…

Mr. BARKER: Mm-hmm.

CHIDEYA: …how do you intend to cover this from now on?

Mr. BARKER: Well, for me, I have a very - it hits home for me. I'm a 24-year-old black male myself. And here in New York City, I fall into the category where I could be victimized by the police. We at the Amsterdam News intend to cover the story to the fullest extent and leave no stone uncovered. We just want complete coverage and all the information we can. We're going to get all sides. We're going to get all angles from everybody, from the police as well as people in the black community and try and get to the bottom of this, and give people a sense of hope and let them know that they can come to us for information if we have it and if they need it.

CHIDEYA: Josh, thank you so much.

Mr. BARKER: All right. Thank you.

CHIDEYA: Josh Barker is a reporter for the Amsterdam News.

NEWS & NOTES called the NYPD. A representative from the Deputy Commissioner's office said he was unavailable for comment at that time. Yesterday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly addressed the situation to reporters. He said, and I quote: "As we know the facts now, the shooting appears to be within department guidelines, as officers fired at someone they reasonably believed was about to use deadly physical force."

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