Questions rise over police shooting in the Bronx
Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 5:24 p.m.
Amidst the shouting was the weeping of bystanders and family members, who gathered at the scene of the police shooting of Emmanuel Paulino, 24, in Inwood on Sunday.
His mother, Liliana Paulino, was inconsolable. Police said that they shot the man as he lunged at them with a pocketknife. However, people in the crowd said Paulino was emotionally disturbed after having a fight with his girlfriend and that the police did not have to shoot him.
According to reports and a tape released by police, Paulino called 911, saying, "I want you to call the cops 'cause I'm ready to kill some cops right now."
When police arrived at Vermilyea Avenue and 207th Street just after 5:30 on Sunday morning, police said a sergeant fired a Taser at the young man, who was shouting at the four officers in the street. Cops say that Paulino ripped the metal prongs from his chest, and that's when they fired their weapons.
As anger rose in the neighborhood, the following day, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly claimed, "We have nine witnesses that saw officers telling him to drop the knife. A sergeant fired the Taser and it had no effect. The deceased took the darts out of his chest...and he then proceeded to go across the street with the knife."
Alex Candelario, a distraught cousin of the dead man, was beside himself. Slamming the police's action, he told the press that he had pleaded with them to let him calm Paulino down, but instead, they drew their guns and used "excessive force."
Neighbors stated that Paulino was a quiet guy who went to work, came home and kept to himself. "A good kid, a humble guy," said Candelario. "He didn't deserve this."
Shot repeatedly in the chest, Paulino died at Columbia Pavilion Hospital.
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez held a press conference soon after declaring, "The community deserves a fair and complete investigation of this death." Standing with the young man's mother, Liliana Paulino, shortly after the shooting, Rodriguez said that it was imperative that the police conduct a transparent investigation into what exactly happened.
Rodriguez told the AmNews, "For many years, the relationship between this community and the NYPD has improved, and we all want that to continue. And we pray that the leadership of Precinct Commander Jose Navarro and his effort to provide safety that the community deserves will be successful in bridging any gap that may still exist between the community and the NYPD. So in the sprit of strengthening that relationship, we ask for a complete and full investigation of the death of Manuel Paulino, a young man who was shot and, as a result, died this morning."
Kelly said repeatedly that his officers had no choice. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has also spoken to the office of New York District Attorney Cy Vance, asking for an independent investigation of this case. "As a community, we want to be sure that all our questions get answered and that Manuel's mother understand why her son died. Today, I was told by Precinct Commander Jose Navarro, Commander Andrew Capul of Manhattan North and Police Commissioner Kelly that they would work toward a full investigation. Also, I have put in a call to Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg on this regard," said the councilman.