Dear DA Ken Thompson,
My name is Nicholas Heyward Sr., and I’m the father of honor student Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was shot and killed at 13 years old by housing cop Brian George in 1994. You know my son’s case well, as you attended our yearly Day of Remembrance for Nicholas back in August of 2013. You also, as Brooklyn’s top prosecutor, agreed to reopen the investigation into what happened to my son.
I invite you and your office to join us and to speak again at this year’s Day of Remembrance, which this year marks 22 years since Nicholas was killed. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 27, from noon to 7 p.m. at Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Park on Wyckoff between Hoyt and Bond streets.
As you know, this annual event, held the day after Nicholas Jr.’s birthday, is a well‐attended community gathering, attracting many people from the Gowanus Houses in particular. This event would be an ideal occasion, not only for you to update the community about your office’s re‐investigation of Nicholas Jr.’s murder, but also to appeal to the community to provide additional evidence that could be helpful to the investigation. An interim report in 1994 stated that the NYPD “had failed at every level to uproot corruption and had instead tolerated a culture that fostered misconduct and concealed lawlessness by police officers.” Facts hidden during the cursory investigation right after Nicholas was killed must now be uncovered.
I am aware that you recently addressed the Bedford‐Stuyvesant community regarding the formerly cold case of the murder of Chanel Petro‐Nixon. I’d be honored if you could similarly address the community at the Gowanus Houses Aug. 27. As an elected official who enjoys the trust of many in Brooklyn and the city’s Black residents, in particular because of your work to help exonerate those wrongfully incarcerated, your voice can help us find more information on what happened to my son.
Aug. 27 will mark three years since you promised to re-examine my son’s case and one year since we publicly asked you to follow through on your campaign promise. There is no greater pain than to be forced to live with the unrelenting injustice of knowing that the killer of your loved one walks free among us. I have been living with that pain every day for 22 years. My son was a child playing with his friends in the Gowanus Houses and George’s reckless actions cut short his life.
Nicholas would have been 35 years old this month. Perhaps he would have had children of his own, spending his time playing with them. Justice seems to have become so elusive to Black families in this country. Isn’t it time to make Brooklyn an example how to finally bend the arc of justice in the right direction? The prior district attorney, Charles Hynes, covered up my son’s case. His corruption must be undone. We need your office to clearly uncover and articulate the problems with the initial investigation, from both the NYPD and Hynes, and make public your approach to ensure a proper investigation of this kind of case going forward.
In the past few years, we have seen other police shootings of Black men, women and children. My own health has been challenged reliving what happened to my family every time I hear of another Black life lost to police violence. Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was killed playing with a toy gun, like my son, out in Cleveland. Akai Gurley was killed for the “crime” of using the stairs in a Brooklyn housing staircase, like my son, in East New York.
If my son had justice back when this all happened, then I believe Tamir and Akai would not have likewise been shot dead by the police. Police officers who see that other cops are not held accountable are emboldened to act more aggressively because they see little chance of consequences. That must stop.
Cops are not above the law and you must help us send that message out clearly and definitively. We hope to see you Aug. 27.
Nicholas Heyward Sr.