“Kimani, please don’t go,” wailed Carol Gray, the mother of police shooting victim 16-year-old Kimani Gray. Completely distraught, she could not contain herself at her son’s wake or funeral. She begged people to help her get her son up at the wake. At the funeral, she laid across her son’s casket and beseeched her child not to leave her.
The slain teen was laid to rest this past weekend in an emotional service. It was more than some could take, as they too broke down in tears with heartbroken cries.
Anger and grief intertwined after the Brooklyn teenager was killed by two NYPD officers on March 9 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Kimani Gray’s killing sparked days of protests and vigils.
Carol Gray revealed to the AmNews last week, “I just sit in my living room. I won’t go to bed. [I’m] just waiting and hoping the bell would ring, and trying not to fall asleep–just hoping Kimani is trying to come home.”
On Saturday, March 22, hundreds of friends, family and community members attended the funeral. Mourners filled the Saint Catherine of Genoa Parish on Linden Boulevard in a service to remember the popular youngster. Many of his friends wore shirts and sweaters bearing pictures of Kimani Gray, with the words “Sleep in Peace.” The eulogy painted a completely different picture of the young man than that initially painted in the mainstream media.
“Kimani’s favorite subject was English because he loved the power of words. His principal and teachers described Kimani as an energetic, kind and playful young man trying to grow everyday. He loved to watch the cartoon ‘Avengers’ and the TV show ‘Supernatural.’ Everyone knows Kiki loved Chinese food and could eat it everyday if he could,” stated a family member during the eulogy.
A relative seemed to faint, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corp under Commander Rocky Robinson provided medical assistance. They insisted on traveling with the family as they went to intern Kimani Gray at Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills cemetery.
On Saturday, police surrounded the entire neighborhood with a foot patrol, vans, scooters, rooftop surveillance, horses and patrol cars, but they filtered blue flap-jacketed community cops in the area immediately surrounding the church.
Tensions rose as the casket was brought down the church steps by young people, many with scarves around their heads or hats pulled down low. As a man tried to tell them how to navigate the steps, another young man retorted, “We’ve done this before.” A sad commentary on that all-too-common experience.
In solidarity, Kimani Gray’s friends banged on his casket as it was loaded into the El Caribe Funeral Home hearse. Carol Gray was escorted both into and out of the church by Councilman Charles Barron, who, along with his wife, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, has been supporting the family since the fatal shooting occurred. Somber and overwhelmed by her palatable grief, Gray almost had to be held up as she walked.
“We want justice for Kimani,” said Barron. “No one can witness the grief of this mother and not demand that the two officers are immediately arrested. As Ms. Gray herself asked, ‘How many families does Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg want to put through this?’ Get your police officers under control.”
Councilman Mathieu Eugene of the 40th District attended the funeral services, calling it a tragic day for the family.
“It’s not about blaming one side or the other. It’s about coming together to get justice for this young man,” he said.
Other electeds who attended the wake or funeral included City Comptroller John Liu and City Councilman Jumaane Williams. Rapper Foxy Brown also attended the church service, accompanied by activist Jeffrey Davis.
The church was a different scene from the previous night, when dozens of police offices surrounded Gray’s wake at the El Caribe Funeral Home. While there weren’t many officers near the church on Saturday, the NYPD set up barricades outside. The funeral went off calmly and without incident.
Gray was killed on March 9 by two undercover NYPD officers who claimed the teen pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them. Several witnesses refuted that, stating equivocally that the teen had no weapon, but rather begged the police to stop shooting and to not kill him. Community activist Richard Green of the Crown Heights Youth Collective told the Amsterdam News outside the funeral, “I don’t think there was a gun.”
The family went to see Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes last week and were seemingly unimpressed as they demanded an independent investigator of Kimani Gray’s death. Meanwhile, Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, who have been sued multiple times, have just been placed on administrative duty during an internal investigation.
Neither the Police Department nor Hynes’ office responded to AmNews requests for comment.
Bloods and Crips have reportedly called a 30-day truce. Activists demanded that the “frivolous arrests” from the protests in the wake of the killing be thrown out.
Speaking exclusively with the AmNews a couple of days before she had to put her son in the ground in Cypress Hills, Gray said, “He wanted to get his high school diploma. They have taken that away from him…Everyone in my house is frustrated–that takes away from the grieving sometimes.”
With regards to Kimani’s siblings, Gray added tearfully, “Sometimes I call them by his name before I realize.”