NEW YORK (AP) — Carol Gray, her head wrapped in a black scarf and her tearful eyes concealed by sunglasses, held up a photograph of her 16-year-old son, who was shot and killed by police.
The picture revealed a grinning boy wearing a blue cap and gown, his arms wrapped around his mother. It was taken the day he graduated from middle school.
“He was slaughtered,” Gray told a room filled with reporters. “And I want to know why.”
Gray held a sorrowful press conference on Thursday to talk about her son, Kimani Gray, the kid nicknamed Kiki, who died on Saturday night after being shot seven times by two police officers. Police say the plainclothes officers opened fire after Gray pointed a gun at them.
A .38-caliber revolver purchased in Florida was recovered from the scene.
Gray was killed in front of his best friend’s house as he left a Sweet 16 birthday party, said his grieving mother, who doesn’t believe he could have pointed a gun at police.
“Today was very hard,” she said, and paused for a long moment before she was able to finish the sentence. “I had to choose the color of the casket that I wanted.”
The teenager’s death has provoked outrage in East Flatbush, the working-class area of Brooklyn where he lived and died, a place that is among the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Long-simmering resentment against the police officers who patrol these streets has erupted into violence in recent days, with 46 people arrested in the most recent protest on Wednesday night.
A police officer was hit by an object tossed from a building during the protest and suffered a gash in his face.
Gray, who was black, was with a group on Saturday night but left when he saw officers in an unmarked car, police said. The plainclothes officers, who were black and Hispanic, approached him because he was acting in a suspicious manner, police said.
An organizer of Wednesday’s event, Rickford Burke, said there’s 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.
According to police, Gray pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, and they opened fire. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative duty.
“Our hearts all have to go out to the family of this young man,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at an unrelated news conference. “So far, all indications are that the young man had a gun, and I can promise you that we will conduct a full and fair investigation.”
The public outcry, which has dragged on for several days, showed no signs of slowing, with another protest taking place Thursday night.
On Monday, dozens of people threw bottles and damaged some stores. Surveillance video shows a cashier cowering in a corner as people looted his shop.