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CLARKE STATEMENT ON THE TRAGIC SHOOTING DEATH OF SAHEED VASSELL

CLARKE STATEMENT ON THE TRAGIC SHOOTING DEATH OF SAHEED VASSELL

Brooklyn, N.Y. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) released the following statement in response to the shooting death of Saheed Vassell on Wednesday afternoon in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

“Saheed Vassell, a beloved member of the Crown Heights community, lost his life in a police involved shooting yesterday. He was 34 years old. On behalf of myself and the people of the 9th Congressional District of NY, I would like to express my deepest condolences. Please know that my prayers are with family, friends, and our community during this time of great pain and bereavement.

“By all accounts, Saheed Vassell was loved by his neighbors. He frequented local fruit stands and businesses in the Crown Heights neighborhood and lived within two blocks of where he was gunned down. Though he suffered from mental health challenges, he was no criminal.

“Saheed, like Dwayne Jeune of East Flatbush, and Erickson Brito of Brownsville all suffered from an emotional disorder at the time of their deaths. They should not have lost their lives.

“We must not accept the criminalization of men and women suffering from mental illness as the status quo. The Crown Heights community expects law enforcement to protect and serve every person, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, or health status. It is well past time for mandatory cultural competency and mental health de-escalation training for our officers.

“I’m grateful to New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, for opening a formal investigation into the death of Saheed and trust that the investigation will be both thorough and transparent. My staff and I will monitor the Attorney General’s progress.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the appropriate focus is given to addressing the mentally ill and their interactions with NYPD and proper, clear and transparent protocols are in place to make sure that lethal force is used as a last resort when interacting with the mentally ill of our communities so we can avoid losing another life to unnecessary violence.

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