A police officer may use deadly force when the officer has a reasonable fear of serious injury or death. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the shooting appeared to be within those guidelines.
But Gray’s family maintains he wasn’t armed, and people in his Brooklyn community were outraged over the shooting.
“I want to see justice,” said Jamal Williams, 18, a friend who grew up with Gray in the same East Flatbush neighborhood. “I want to see these cops taken down.”
On Monday, at a vigil for the teen, dozens of people threw bottles and damaged some stores. Police released surveillance video of two of the convenience stores, where people are seen throwing fruit and stealing. In one, the cashier cowers in a corner as people loot the shop.
“I don’t think that should have any relationship to a peaceful demonstration,” the police commissioner said of stealing from the registers.
Kelly said the group was disorderly, but didn’t characterize it as a riot as some local newspapers did.
Rickford Burke, president of the New York Caribbean Institute and an organizer of Wednesday’s vigil, said he condemned the looting. He said the disorderly response came from a deep feeling of frustration in the community that police officers regularly harass and target young black men.
“The police department has proven to be racially inattentive to black communities and this one is no different,” he said.
A second cousin of the victim, Ray Charles, said he was devastated to learn of Gray’s death — and was still having trouble accepting the NYPD’s official version of events.
“My cousin was scared of guns,” said Charles, 35. “I honestly just want justice. They didn’t need to shoot him like that.” Charles did not protest Wednesday night but said he encouraged people to take to the streets.
“The real issue in Brooklyn is cops have been harassing us for a long time,” he said. “It needs to stop.”