As two police officers pressed into the doorway of his Bronx apartment last year, Kawaski Trawick repeatedly posed a question.
“Why are you in my home?” asked Trawick, who was alone, clad in underwear and boots, living in supportive housing. He held a wooden stick and a serrated knife from his kitchen.
“Why are you, why are you, why are you in my home? Why are you in my home? Why are you in my home?” he demanded.
Trawick never got an answer. Within two minutes, a police officer fired four shots, including one that pierced his heart, killing the 32-year-old on April 14, 2019.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark released police body camera footage Tuesday showing Trawick feet away from the cops, as they stood in his doorway, telling him to put down the knife.
“I have a knife because I’m cooking,” he responded.
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
Trawick, whom one of the officers later described as an “emotionally disturbed person,” says “hold it, hold it, hold it, the center, the center, the center of the brain,” just before cops Tased him to the ground.
He got back up, yelling, “I’m gonna kill you all! Get out!” and was moving toward the cops when Officer Brendan Thompson fired the fatal shots.
Cops ‘a Clear Danger’
When they first learned of their son’s death, Trawick’s parents questioned whether lethal force was required. The family’s viewing of the body camera footage in August only cemented their view he should not have died that night.
“NYPD went into Kawaski’s home and murdered him,” his mother, Ellen Trawick, told THE CITY at the time.
On Tuesday, as the footage was made public, along with surveillance video from her son’s Morris Heights building, his mother demanded the immediate firing of Thompson and Davis — calling them “a clear danger to New Yorkers.”
Ellen Trawick also charged that officials at Clark’s office “dragged their feet” in releasing the video and report more than 1 ½ years after the fatal shooting.
The report was “written in a biased way that summarizes the incident by reiterating NYPD talking points instead of highlighting the multiple problems with the officers’ actions and failures, including killing my son within two minutes while they escalated the incident every step of the way,” she said in a statement.
Kawaski Trawick’s death did not trigger major protests at the time. It also did not garner an investigation from the state Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is required to probe some shootings by police, because he was considered armed.
‘Losing His Mind’
The shooting unfolded around 11 p.m. that Sunday night after a security guard and the superintendent at the Grand Avenue building where Trawick lived called 911 on him, saying he was banging on doors, bothering neighbors.
The guard told 911 that Trawick was “losing his mind,” Clark’s report says.
The super had a history of problems with Trawick: He previously called police and accused Trawick of harassment, the NYPD said during a briefing last year.
The super and another building staffer guided the cops to Trawick’s floor, the report said.
Earlier that day, a distraught Trawick had called 911 about a fire after being locked out of his apartment with food cooking on the stove. The FDNY came and left after breaking open his front door.
Police arrived about seven minutes after firefighters left.
NYPD’s Fraught History
The shooting — in a building where a nonprofit operates supportive housing under a city contract — illustrates some of the challenges the de Blasio administration faces in its planned attempt to divert the treatment of people in mental crisis away from police.
Over the past three years alone, at least 14 mentally ill people have died at the hands of cops.
Thompson said he did not hear the 911 dispatcher describe Trawick as emotionally disturbed, according to Clark’s report.
Both police officers on the scene had received crisis intervention training to deal with people in emotional distress, according to NYPD.
Last week, the city’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, announced a shift in her ThriveNYC program: Teams of mental health workers and EMS personnel will handle a small portion of 911 mental health calls instead of cops.
More than three years ago, the city created elite teams of mental health workers and cops to intervene with the emotionally disturbed, but they weren’t looped into the 911 system for at least three years, THE CITY reported.