The body of missing teen Kavion Brown-Godfrey was found in the East River nearby the Wall Street Heliport this past Friday Oct. 27. He was identified by his parents, says their family lawyer, although police say they are awaiting the medical examiner’s official determination.
The search for Brown Godfrey ends exactly a week after the 13-year-old boy disappeared into the East River last Friday, Oct. 20, around 4 p.m. An NYPD spokesperson said police responded to a “water rescue” from the 6th Avenue entrance to lower Manhattan’s East River Park. There, officers learned from witnesses that a teenage boy “entered” the East River and did not return. Rescue boats, divers and drones were deployed in efforts to find him.
Brown Godfrey reached high in life, both literally and figuratively. His father Donnell Godfrey remembers him as an ambitious kid with dreams of playing in the NBA. The youngster stood 6-foot-3; between his height and helpful nature, there were few shelves the family couldn’t access when he was home, said his dad.
“He’s a young, smart, energetic, strong, intelligent kid,” said his father. “He loves sports. He was playing basketball for most of his life.”
“He’s so smart, kind, and respectful,” added Kavion’s mother, Laquana Badger Godfrey. “He was everything you could imagine: helpful, responsible; he loves his brothers. He loved us. My son just wanted to be around us. I’ll be sitting here and he’ll just be sitting this close—I’m like, ‘Move over just a little bit’—but he was just that loving and he loved life.”
His parents say Brown Godfrey attended Lower East Side Preparatory High School, where he is notably younger than most classmates due to his winter birthday. He’s the oldest of four boys and is remembered as a fan of NBA 2K video games and music, both old school and new school.
Brown Godfrey’s parents held a press conference with Sanford Rubenstein at the personal injury lawyer’s Brooklyn office on Thursday, Oct. 26, announcing intentions to look into the NYC Department of Education’s responsibility for their son’s disappearance, although it is too early to determine whether a claim will be made. The interview occurred a day before Brown Godfrey’s body was recovered.
“The first question this family wants an answer to is was there a responsibility on the Department of Education [that] was breached [that] caused [this disappearance],” said Rubenstein. “We will conduct an investigation with regard to that issue and make a determination, and if they are responsible, take appropriate legal action.”
Brown Godfrey’s father told reporters the young man was scheduled to attend a soccer game supervised by his basketball coach when the incident occurred.
The parents have also publicly maintained they were the only spokespeople for Brown Godfrey, disputing remarks made earlier by a woman claiming to be his great-aunt.
“There’s someone [who’s] been speaking out on behalf of the family—a woman named Alena Godfrey; at least, that’s how she’s been identified in the press,” said Rubenstein. “She is not a spokesperson for the family and she has not been authorized by the family to speak.”
The woman in question spoke to the Amsterdam News this past Tuesday near where the incident transpired and identified herself as the great-aunt. The parents say they don’t know who she is.
“With this going on, it feels like I’m in a movie…and someone’s trying to interject themselves into my life,” said the father. “And it’s scary, and it’s crazy, and it’s ridiculous.”
A GoFundMe raised for Brown Godfrey and his family recently reached more than $12,000 in donations. The link can be found here.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.