A fatal confrontation between five NYPD officers and a bipolar Brooklyn man carrying what looked like a gun lasted less than 10 seconds, a police official told the Daily News.
There was enough time before the first shots for the cops to shout at Saheed Vassell, 34, when the Crown Heights resident leveled a shiny silver pipe at the officers, the same official said Friday.
“Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!” the officers screamed before opening fire.
None of the four officers who fired a combined 10 shots at Vassell was involved in any previous on-duty shootings, the same official added.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the cops had little time to ponder their options Wednesday after responding to three 911 calls reporting a man on the street with a gun.
“You saw how quickly that transpired,” said Boyce. “These officers didn’t have much time. When you’re presented with an immediate threat, it is different from being able to step back and talk.”
Police shoot, kill Brooklyn man wielding metal object
Boyce noted that seven of the eight NYPD line of duty deaths since he became chief of detectives in 2014 involved people with some kind of mental illness.
“Every situation is different,” said Boyce when asked if lethal force was the right response to a mentally ill suspect threatening officers. “… It depends on each incident — not easy to say, policy-wise.”
Vassell, 34, was killed on the streets where he was a familiar figure in the neighborhood.
Security video shot in the seconds before his death showed him wielding a silver metal piece that resembled a gun — and pointing it at pedestrians, including a woman walking hand-in-hand with a small child.
Before police opened fire, Vassell pointed the shiny piece of metal at the arriving officers, extending both his hands in a combat-style stance.
The NYPD released additional video Friday of Vassell’s frenetic final few minutes alive. He’s seen walking quickly along the sidewalk, with the newly public clip showing more of the slain man’s erratic behavior.
Additional transcripts of the three 911 calls made before the shooting were also released, with one woman heard screaming and crying as she spoke with the emergency operator.
“He’s coming back!” she yells. “He’s coming back. He’s crossing the street, Oh my God.”
The dead man’s family acknowledged that Vassell, the father of a 15-year-old son, refused to take medication for his condition.
Susan Herman, NYPD deputy commissioner for collaborative policing, said police were trying to eliminate the stigma of mental illness and steer people to treatment facilities.
The cops are “trying to come up with other alternatives where the Police Department is really the last resort and not the first resort,” she said.
“But we always have to make a distinction between an immediate, urgent life-threatening situation and one where you can reflect upon a variety of options.”