Outrage over NYPD killing of Trinidadian-American
Unarmed 23-year-old woman shot dead after car collision.
NEW YORK, USA, Friday June 22, 2012 – Shantel Davis’ cousin, Stephanie Gilmer, referred to her as a “sweetie pie with her whole life in front of her”. That life was brought to an abrupt end last week when the unarmed Trinidadian-American was killed in an altercation with New York Police Department (NYPD) officers.
Shantel, 23, was shot in the chest during what police described as a "wild struggle" after she tried to drive away from a car collision on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
Her death has sparked outrage among the Caribbean community in New York and prompted telling remarks by three Caribbean lawmakers.
"I am very saddened by the loss of her life, and I wish to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms Davis," New York City Councilman Dr Mathieu Eugene, the Haitian-born representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said.
Dr Eugene was present at the scene of the shooting to speak with police and residents who live nearby, and was also with Davis's family into the wee hours of the following morning "to show my support to them during this difficult time".
"As a city, we must take comprehensive steps to reduce violence and improve the quality of life for everyone in our community in an effort to prevent such incidents from occurring again," he stated.
His City Council colleague, Grenadian-American Councillor Jumaane Williams, called the NYPD to task for the “rapid public release of information regarding this victim, which may have taken place before notification of the shooting to her family".
"They should show greater care in the handling of a sensitive enquiry in its early stages, or at the least provide equity to the balance of facts being released," Williams, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, said.
Jamaican Nick Perry, a New York State Assemblyman, said the shooting appeared "questionable".
"I am seriously concerned that the police may have not acted with good judgment," said Perry, who represents the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn.
Police claimed that Davis, who had crashed a stolen car, was part of a violent crew who last year had forced a man into his home at gunpoint, robbed him and shot him as he ran away.
They have admitted that no gun was found on Davis after she was shot dead, but they claim her arrest record, which included robbery and drug busts, shows she was no stranger to run-ins with the law.
Davis was due in court last Friday on charges stemming from an attack in April 2011, when she and others allegedly held a man hostage as they robbed his Brooklyn apartment, court papers show.
She was out on US$25,000 bail, police said, when two narcotics cops saw her run a red light and start speeding down Church Avenue.
Two plainclothes officers, Detective Phillip Atkins, 44, and Police Officer Daniel Guida, 27, began to follow Davis in their unmarked car as she sped through a series of red lights before she crashed, police said.
Police said she was driving a 1998 Toyota Camry that she allegedly stole the week before.