The officers who fatally shot a bipolar Brooklyn man had no idea of his mental health woes when they confronted him on a streetcorner, a police source said Thursday,
The cops responded to the intersection of Utica Ave. and Montgomery St. in Crown Heights after receiving three 911 calls reporting an armed man in the neighborhood.
When the officers encountered Saheed Vassell, “all they knew was that he fit the description and had what appeared to be a gun in his hands,” the source told the Daily News.
Video obtained by The News showed Vassell lurching toward a frightened pedestrian before pulling a shiny silver object from his pocket prior to the fatal shooting.
Transcripts of the 911 calls showed three people reporting a man behaving erratically and carrying a gun, while a video released by the NYPD captured Vassell walking up to passersby as if armed.
“He looks like he’s crazy but he’s pointing something at people that looks like a gun,” said one of the callers. “And he’s like popping it, as if like he’s pulling the trigger.”
The video shows Vassell approaching one woman holding a small child’s hand and extending his right arm at the adult as if brandishing a weapon.
Police said four of the five responding officers fired 10 shots Wednesday afternoon after Vassell dropped into a two-handed shooter’s stance, with the silver object in his grasp.
Vassell is see in the video turning toward the arriving officers, lifting both arms and pointing his hands toward the cops.
“At this point, responding officers discharged their weapons,” police said.
As it turned out, the 34-year-old Vassell was carrying a shiny piece of metal — possibly a showerhead.
The cops at the scene knew nothing of Vassell’s mental health issues because there were dispatched to a street location rather than a specific address, said the source.
Calls to an address are accompanied by reports of prior calls at the location for emotionally disturbed people, according to the source.