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The NYPD Killed Kawaski Trawick. New York City Failed Him.

The NYPD is above the law when they kill New Yorkers. Kawaski Trawick's family knows this too well.

Kawaski Trawick

Kawaski Trawick (Facebook)

The NYPD is above the law when they kill New Yorkers, and no case better illustrates this heartbreaking and enraging fact than the case of Kawaski Trawick.

Trawick, a 32-year-old personal trainer who lived with mental health issues, found himself locked out of his Bronx apartment one night in the spring of 2019. Trawick called 911, pretended the building was on fire, and the FDNY came, unlocking his door and letting him back in. 

That could have been the end of it, but then two NYPD officers, Herbert Davis and Brendan Thompson, also showed up. A building super told the cops that Trawick may have been on drugs, so the officers went up to Trawick's apartment and knocked on his door. When they didn't get an immediate answer, they forced their way in, with Thompson pointing his Taser into the apartment. "We ain't gonna tase him," Davis told his much younger partner.

"Why did you just kick in my door?" a shirtless and bewildered Trawick asked the cops. He was  shirtless and holding a knife, because, as he told the two cops, he was at home and cooking a meal.

Seconds later, despite Davis's warnings to not use the Taser, Thompson shot Trawick with it. Then Thompson pulled his firearm.

"No, no, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t," Davis told his partner, who again, didn't listen. Thompson then proceeded to shoot Trawick four times, killing him. 

Less than two minutes had elapsed, and Trawick was dead.

All of the above information came out after the NYPD's internal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing, and after the Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark determined that the NYPD officers did not do anything to merit charges.

ProPublica obtained the documents and the body camera footage the NYPD used to come to their determination, and found that the investigation into Trawick's death was a farce. Police investigators never even asked the officers about the body camera footage, and allowed them to make false or misleading statements. This internal inquiry was led by the NYPD's Force Investigation Division, which was created after the death of Eric Garner as a measure to supposedly increase police accountability. Both officers had received training in how to respond to calls of someone in crisis.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board also brought departmental charges against Thompson and Davis, but the NYPD withheld the body camera footage for a year and a half—a shockingly common way the NYPD shows its contempt toward its civilian oversight body.  The case finally did make it to "trial" (not a public trial, but an NYPD-run departmental trial, with an NYPD judge), but earlier this month, the judge stated in a draft decision that the officers did not deserve any discipline, because the CCRB missed a deadline. 

"CCRB’s failure to preserve the statute of limitations hijacked this NYPD disciplinary trial and distorted it into a quasi-criminal proceeding where the evidentiary threshold focused on the Penal Law instead of Patrol Guide compliance," wrote the judge, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado, who is herself another cog in this massive, sclerotic, impunity-making machine. 

Again: This happened because the NYPD withheld evidence.

Ultimately, the fate of the officers—who, at worst, could lose their jobs—is in the hands of NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams called the NYPD judge's decision "unjustifiable," and asked Caban to "hold these officers accountable." 

Adams herself could do a lot more to hold NYPD officers accountable, by calling on the council to pass pending legislation that forces the NYPD to give the CCRB full access to body camera footage. Better yet, why not pass a law that gives the CCRB the authority to discipline cops, instead of "recommending" to the NYPD that discipline happen, and then seeing those recommendations ignored or watered down over and over and over again.

At 11 a.m. this morning, members of Trawick's family and a group of elected officials and advocates will meet outside of NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza, to, according to a press release, "demand that Mayor Adams and Commissioner Caban take immediate action to reject the draft recommendation and fire the officers who killed Kawaski."

Earlier this week, Kawaski's mother Ellen Trawick told the CITY what is plain for all to see: that the NYPD has made it so that cops do not face any actual penalties when they kill people like her son. "I really feel like it was something that the NYPD rigged up from the beginning," she said. "I felt like they know what they was doing. I’m pretty sure this is nothing that they haven’t done before."

The mayor and his police commissioner haven't commented on Trawick's case. But last week, Caban decided that the sergeant who killed 66-year-old Deborah Danner in her apartment in 2016, who an NYPD judge recommended be fired, should instead be allowed to retire. Caban, it seems, wants the sergeant to be able to collect his pension for his years of public service.

More stories to start your day:

And finally, BEHOLD: Jay-Z's Lexus…on the lawn of the Brooklyn Public Library's main branch…why?

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