Calling for “full transparency,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams vowed Friday to seek the police body camera video that shows the fatal April 14 shooting of a Bronx man by a cop.
“Transparency is a powerful tool, and it is clear to me that we need full transparency regarding this incident,” Williams said in a statement to THE CITY. “In so many instances, there is an opacity which only worsens the situation and obscures answers. I will be exercising the power of the Office of Public Advocate to request and review footage to more fully understand what transpired.”
Kawaski Trawick, 32, was shot once in the right upper chest and once in the upper left part of his back during the deadly two-minute encounter with two police officers in his Morris Heights apartment, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Only one of the cops fired — four shots in all. Both officers, whose names were not released, remained on active duty as of Friday, according to the NYPD.
State Assemblyman Dan Quart (D-Manhattan) also called for the immediate release of the body camera footage. THE CITY’s Freedom of Information Law request for the video should get a response on or about September 9, according to an email from the city Department of Records and Information Services.
Williams and Quart’s demand to make the body camera footage public followed THE CITY’s examination of the shooting at Hill House, the supportive housing facility where Trawick lived.
Dueling 911 Calls
Trawick got locked out of his apartment at 1616 Grand Ave. the night of April 14 when he apparently had food cooking on the stove. He called 911 to summon the Fire Department.
Meanwhile, the building’s superintendent and security guard separately dialed 911 to report Trawick was harassing people and banging on apartment doors.
Firefighters left after breaking open Trawick’s door. Soon after, police said, the two officers arrived to find Trawick wielding a serrated knife and a stick.
The officers tasered Trawick – and one then shot him when he got up and charged, according to the NYPD.
The Bronx District Attorney Office’s Public Integrity Bureau “is still investigating” the shooting, a spokesperson confirmed to THE CITY on Friday.
Two other potential key items have yet to be released – among them, a hallway video that includes the Fire Department’s seemingly uneventful visit to let Trawick back in his locked apartment, the NYPD confirmed.
New York City’s Human Resources Administration also has a “confidential incident report” from the nonprofit it contracts to runs the building – but has not released the file, arguing that state Social Services law prevents them from doing so.
Hill House is operated by Services for the Underserved, which helps “people with disabilities, people in poverty and people facing homelessness,” according to its website.
Questions Raised on Procedures
City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) was troubled to learn that building staff called the police and guided them to Trawick’s floor – raising questions about how supportive-housing facilities handle emergencies.
“There should be other options and on-call staff,” she told THE CITY. “This happens far too often when cops are called. We need on call crisis intervention staff after 5 p.m. to be on call through the night. We should not call the cops first but should have other options to help.”
City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Donovan Richards (D-Queens) said through a spokesperson that he would “reserve our comments for when we have a better understanding” of the events leading to Trawick’s death.
A spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said his office was “reaching out to the NYPD for more clarity on this.”
Trawick’s father questioned why the four shots were fired.
“You can shoot a man anywhere, one shot’s gonna bring a man down,” Ricky Trawick, a Georgia-based truck driver, said in a phone interview with THE CITY Tuesday.