Three boys chased by a retired police officer they say drew a gun on them are now speaking publicly about their ordeal, in an interview with Hot 97 host Ebro Darden posted to YouTube — with one saying he didn’t believe he would make it through alive.
The ex-cop, Kruythoff Forrester, was arrested by officers from the 73rd Precinct immediately after the November 2021 incident, only to be released from police custody within two hours after top NYPD officials intervened, events documented in surveillance video recently posted by THE CITY.
One of the two officials was Jeffrey Maddrey, then NYPD chief of community affairs and since promoted chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the entire NYPD.
Kyi-el, now 15, his 13-year-old brother Brendan, and their 15-year-old cousin Kawun spoke to Ebro for nearly 25 minutes about the November 2021 evening when Forrester pursued them on foot for nearly seven minutes over several blocks and, allegedly, pointed a gun at them.
Forrester was arrested after the boys gave police matching and accurate descriptions of what the licensed 9mm gun cops found on Forrester looked like — and correctly identified which side he had it holstered on.
“It was the worst time of my life,” Kyi-el told the radio station in an interview that Hot 97 posted online late Thursday. “I thought I wouldn’t make it home to my mom. I was scared for my life.”
THE CITY is referring to the boys only by their first names, at the request of their families.
The Hot 97 interview segment shows clips from video compiled by THE CITY that chronicled events in connection of Forrester’s arrest and release. It was based on a trove of video footage obtained through a public disclosure request filed with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
Forrester began chasing the kids because they threw a basketball that struck one of his family’s storefront security cameras, something he told responding officers had happened previously. He also invoked Maddrey’s name three times after he was handcuffed by police, including asking an officer at the precinct house to call Maddrey on his behalf, the footage shows. Maddrey had been Forrester’s supervisor for three years when both men were based with the 73rd Precinct.
Maddrey and a colleague showed up at the 73rd Precinct house that night, the video footage shows — an unusual action for a top official with citywide responsibilities, current and former NYPD officers have said. He was joined by Scott Henderson, deputy chief for Brooklyn North.
Forrester’s arrest was then voided after about 90 minutes. The video shows him smiling as he shakes Forrester’s hand in the precinct lobby upon Forrester’s release from the 73rd Precinct just after midnight.
Within days of the incident, an NYPD spokesperson told THE CITY that Maddrey and Henderson had ordered an immediate investigation but that it couldn’t corroborate the kids’ claims that Forrester pointed his gun at them.
A law enforcement source told THE CITY at that time that Maddrey and Henderson had ordered that Forrester’s arrest be voided.
Maddrey and Henderson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the Hot 97 interview, and Forrester couldn’t immediately be reached.
‘Nobody Believes Us’
In November 2022, the boys’ families’ filed a lawsuit in state court against Forrester in a bid to get some accountability over the enduring trauma the boys said they felt.
For the Hot 97 interview, the three boys were joined by an advocate for the family, Victor Dempsey. (Dempsey is the brother of Delrawn Small, who was killed by an off-duty police officer in a road-rage encounter in 2016.)
Kyi-el and Dempsey related that the boys had felt scared and isolated not only by Forrester’s sudden release after they had alleged he’d pulled a gun on them, but also by public shows of support that sided with the officers. A group of local clergy members rallied in support of Maddrey, while a local TV segment portrayed Forrester as the victim.
More recently, the boys heard Mayor Eric Adams give his support to Maddrey — who was promoted twice under Adams’ administration — without getting similar backing from any public officials.
The boys told the Hot 97 hosts in response to a question that they hadn’t heard from NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, whose tenure started about six weeks after the incident.
“It feels like we’re by ourselves,” Kyi-el responded. “It feels like nobody believes us.”
Scared in Their Neighborhood
The boys, who were soft-spoken and gave brief responses during their interview on Hot 97, revealed that they had spent months in a state of caution and fear in their own neighborhood after being confronted by Forrester.
This included avoiding his block entirely in order to play basketball at their favorite school yard, down the street from his real estate office.
To combat the boys’ long-running feeling of isolation, Dempsey said he’s helping organize youth groups to hold a rally scheduled to take place on Monday, launching from Brooklyn Borough Hall at noon, that will advocate for public safety and NYPD accountability.
“It’s not about the politics anymore,” he told Hot 97 of the rally. “It’s really about making sure that these guys feel comfortable walking down their own damn block.”
Ebro added: “Or feel support from a city that they live in.”
Dempsey said the kids came up with a list of demands.
Among them: they are calling for an investigation of the incident by State Attorney General Letitia James — both of Forrester’s conduct and of Maddrey and Henderson’s intervention.
“They want chief Maddrey fired. He intervened,” said Dempsey.
A spokesperson for James last month said the office hadn’t been contacted by anyone associated with the family regarding a request for a probe. An email sent Friday seeking an update wasn’t immediately responded to.
In the weeks following the incident, the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducted a probe that found no misconduct by Maddrey or Henderson, and the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez found no criminality in its probe of the incident.
An investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board is ongoing, a spokesperson for the NYPD conduct oversight body recently said.
Elusive Elected Officials
The kids said they’re also seeking an apology from the local clergy members who marched in support of Maddrey, part of a group called African American Clergy and Elected Officials.
“These young men were hiding. Let’s be clear about that — they were hiding in their own communities because of the fear that this guy might do something again,” Dempsey told Hot 97. “Because of the fear that their voices are being suppressed and nobody’s listening to them.”
The clergy group, whose president is Rev. Robert Waterman of Antioch Baptist Church, didn’t respond to multiple email requests for comment.
THE CITY reached out to elected officials and civil rights leaders who have been critical of NYPD practices in the past, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the two co-chairs of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, but none of them responded when asked about the video evidence that THE CITY made public last month.
Of the elected officials who represent the Brownsville district where the incident happened, only state Assembly Member Latrice Walker responded — but only to say that she’s monitoring the ongoing CCRB case and the families’ lawsuit.
“Whatever happens going forward, I am on the side of truth,” she said in a statement provided by her office last month.
Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who has had a close relationship with Adams going back decades, said THE CITY’s reporting on the incident and its aftermath raises “serious and substantial questions.”
“It raises the specter of special treatment to a former cop,” Siegel told THE CITY after viewing the video evidence. “And most importantly, it buys into the notion that the rules are different for cops, former cops, and friends — and it increases the alienation and distrust in the criminal justice system.”
He added: “It’s who you are and whom you know, rather than what you did.”