Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Police kill unarmed man who was holding hairbrush


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Officers shot and killed an 18-year-old man believed to be armed, New York police said Tuesday, but he was only hiding a hairbrush.

Officers in New York early Tuesday guard the scene of a police shooting that left a teen dead.

"The circumstances of how it occurred at this point is under investigation, and you can rest assured that we will take this very seriously," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to The Associated Press.

The Monday night shooting followed a 911 call from the man's mother, said New York Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

In the 911 recording the son, Khiel Coppin, "can be heard saying I've got a gun, I've got a gun," Browne said.

The 911 operator asked the mother if there was a gun involved and she responded "you heard it from his mouth," said Browne.

After officers arrived at the mother's Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment, the teen refused to stop as he approached police with a black object in his hand hidden under his shirt, Browne said. Police then fired 20 shots at the teen, killing him, said Browne. But he said Coppin was found unarmed and only carrying a black hairbrush.

"The boy didn't have no gun, he had a brush on him," said Andre Wildman, a neighbor who told CNN that he saw the shooting. Watch witnesses describe the shooting »

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Another neighbor, Wayne Holder, said police should be required to see a weapon before opening fire on a suspect. "At least see a gun before you start to discharge it," Holder said. Police "don't even have to see it, [if] they think you got one, you're going to get shot."

Coppin was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, the medical examiner's office said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network is expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday about the shooting.

Police said they were investigating whether Coppin had a history of mental illness and whether his mother had tried to have him hospitalized earlier Monday.

The shooting came a year after unarmed groom Sean Bell, 23, was killed hours before his wedding in a shooting involving New York police. In 1999, unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, 22, died when police in the Bronx shot him 19 times.

Bystander Dyshawn Gibson described Monday's shooting to CNN affiliate WABC-TV. "He dropped the brush," Gibson said. "He put his hands up. Police just started firing."

Coppin was seen pacing around the apartment prior to the shooting, according to an initial police statement issued Monday night.

"He began screaming from the window at his mother and the police," the police statement said. "At some point, the male climbed out of the window and began crossing the sidewalk toward the police."

That's when police began firing, a police spokesman said. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jennifer Rizzo, Janine Brady and Alina Cho contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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