The NYPD expects to release video footage of the Sept. 29 incident during which Police Officer Brian Mulkeen and a Binghamton man were killed in a hail of police bullets in The Bronx.
A few hours after lawyers for the family of Antonio Williams filed a Freedom of Information Law request seeking dozens of records tied to the incident, including body-camera footage, a department spokeswoman on Dec. 9 said “the video” would be released “in the coming week.”
During an afternoon press conference on the City Hall steps, members of Mr. Williams’s family and their lawyer alleged the de Blasio administration and the NYPD were engaged in a “cover-up” of the incident, which happened outside the Edenwald Houses in The Bronx shortly after midnight Sept. 29.
Antonio Williams’s father, Shawn Williams, said that silence from city officials suggested that Mayor de Blasio and police officials “are just pretty much blatantly covering things up.”
“At the end of the day we just want the truth, we want to find out what happened that night, why it happened, what could have been done to prevent it from happening,” he said.
The Binghamton man’s family said the 27-year-old, in the company of another man, was waiting for a cab on East 229th St. when police pulled up. Mr. Williams, a father of two and the oldest of six brothers, including a twin, had been at Edenwald watching a boxing match on TV, his family said.
Site of Recent Shootings
Police said officers assigned to a 47th Precinct anti-crime unit were in the vicinity because of gang activity in and around Edenwald that included multiple recent shootings.
Mr. Williams, who was at the rear of 1132 East 229th St., had run from Officer Mulkeen and two colleagues when they pulled up seeking to question him, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said following the shooting.
Officer Mulkeen caught up to him about a block away and the two wrestled to the ground. According to the NYPD, the Officer was heard on body-cam video shouting, “He’s reaching for it! He’s reaching for it!” presumably referring to a loaded revolver Mr. Williams was carrying. Officer Mulkeen fired five rounds and five other officers fired 10 shots, two of which struck the officer.
Investigators later concluded that Mr. Williams, on probation for a narcotics-related arrest in 2018 and with other prior arrests, had not fired his gun, a revolver first sold in Virginia in 1971.
Had ‘Right to Run’
One of the attorneys representing Mr. Williams’s family, Jonathan Moore, said there were several outstanding questions about the late-night incident. Among them were whether the officers identified themselves, what led them to approach Mr. Williams and what body-cam video and nearby cameras recorded.
“We think, and we're concerned that that information is being covered up,” said Mr. Moore, whose firm, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, secured a $5.9-million settlement from the city for Gwen Carr, whose son, Eric Garner, died in 2014 following a confrontation with police. “Absent some suspicion that somebody has done anything wrong, it violates Federal constitutional, state law and police regulations to go up and stop somebody who is simply standing on the street,” he said.
He added that Mr. Williams “had every right under the law to run.”
Mr. Williams’s stepmother, Gladys Williams, said at the press conference that the family never heard from police regarding the incident. “Mayor de Blasio’s office didn’t even bother to call us,” she said.
“We just want answers. We just want to know what happened on Sept. 2. We want to know why the cops approached him.”
The NYPD did not respond to questions about whether Mr. Williams was known to police or why officers wanted to speak with him.
Call for ‘Transparency’
Alluding to what he called “the elephant in the room,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the gun found on Mr. Williams “does not dismiss all of the valid questions that need to be answered, like why was he stopped in the first place? That is a question that the NYPD has to answer.”
While the officers and the NYPD might very well have a “valid answer” as to why officers sought to speak with Mr. Williams, “the lack of transparency” surrounding the incident was troubling, the Public Advocate said. He called for the department to release “unedited footage” of the incident as well as the names of the officers involved.
Should the department not do so, he said, it would fall short of the “transparency and accountability” that’s required of the NYPD.
“You cannot just keep giving narratives and ask us to believe,” he said.
‘They Found One’
In a statement released following the Williams family’s event, the Police Benevolent Association’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, said Officer Mulkeen and his partners were doing the job they were called to do, looking for “criminals with guns.
“They found one, and P.O. Mulkeen lost his life as a result.”
He added that city leaders should not kowtow to “gun-toting bandits and the pro-criminal advocates who support them” but should instead “be focused on the New Yorkers who are besieged by the recent uptick in gun violence.”