January 26, 2004
The family of the teenager shot and killed by police at a Brooklyn housing project over the weekend called for the arrest of the officer involved in the shooting during an exclusive interview with NY1 Monday.
Nineteen-year-old Timothy Stansbury Jr. was walking through the rooftop door of the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant early Saturday morning with friends when housing officer Richard Neri shot him. Neri said he thought Stansbury was lunging at his partner, but the partner said Neri issued no words of warning before he fired.
In an interview this afternoon with NY1’s Dominic Carter, the teen’s mother and father accused the officer of not following procedure, and called for his arrest in connection with the shooting.
“My son was just going across the hall to get some CD’s,” said Timothy Stansbury, the victim’s father. “If the police officer knows his procedures and what he’s supposed to do in any kind of case, an emergency case or anything out of the ordinary, he’s supposed to say, ‘Halt! Freeze! Don’t move!’ I just don’t understand why he couldn’t use that procedure. What was wrong that he couldn’t use that procedure? I mean, a rookie would use that procedure. You give guys a badge and a gun, what, just to go out there and be a macho man? If it was another police officer going up the flight of stairs to the rooftop, he would have shot the same police officer like he shot my kid.”
“My son ain’t never coming home to me again,” said Phyllis Clayburne, the slain teen’s mother. “The last time I seen my son was on my birthday, when he told me, ‘I got this,’ meaning he was going to get me a present for my birthday. And he turned around and told me how much he loved his mother. He’ll never walk through that door again and tell me how much he loves me. Never. I want him to go to jail for the rest of his life.”
A grand jury is expected to be convened this week to decide whether to charge Neri in the case, and witnesses began speaking with prosecutors today about the shooting.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said shortly after the incident that the shooting appears to be unjustified. However, Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD’s largest union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the commissioner should have withheld his comments until the officers involved spoke with the district attorney's office.
"It is absolutely wrong for Commissioner Kelly to have jumped to a conclusion when he knows the police officer involved has not had the opportunity to speak with the district attorney,'' Lynch said in a statement. "This investigation should be allowed to move forward without being tainted by politics or comments by Commissioner Kelly or others.''
Neri has been placed on modified duty and his shield and gun have been taken away. This is the first time the 11-year veteran of the force has fired his weapon while on duty.
Neri’s attorney, Stuart London, released a statement saying: “Officer Neri is clearly sympathetic to the loss that the family is experiencing, but he is optimistic that he will receive a fair and impartial investigation into this matter.”
“A young man's life has been taken from us, and nothing we can say is going to bring him back,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “We just have to make sure we reduce the risks of anything like that happening again."
City Councilman Charles Barron says Neri deserves to be in jail for shooting the teen.
"We're going to let justice go forward,” Barron said Monday. “The D.A.'s office determines whether there's an indictment or not or how it goes forward, not the PBA, and they should not protect officers when they're doing wrong. They lose credibility like that."
Barron accompanied Stansbury's parents to the D.A.’s office today to demand justice. After the meeting, the councilman said he is optimistic an indictment will come.
“The D.A. said that he's not going to shortchange us on this one, that he’s not leaving any stone unturned, and that he’s going to use all the resources of his office to pursue justice in this case,” said Barron.
Friends and family of Stansbury gathered at the Louis Armstrong Houses Monday evening to remember the 19-year-old. They lit candles, wrote notes, and placed flowers in front of the building where he was killed.
“They loved him,” said the teen’s father. “He got along with everybody around here. He had no fights with nobody around here. He wasn't no robber and he wasn’t no thief.”
“It’s a sad thing to be watching one of my friends die for being on the roof,” said Kenneth Gustus, a friend of the victim. “Sometimes I look and it does make me feel bad inside.”
Teenagers say traveling by roof at the four-story complex is commonplace.
“I usually go on the roof to make a shortcut to go to that building if I’m in this building, because it’s better than walking all the way downstairs because it takes longer,” said Eric Alford, a friend of Stansbury. “If you go across the roof it’s faster, but now I ain't doing that no more.”
Stansbury worked at a McDonalds on Fulton Street. He headed over to the Armstrong Houses after he finished working his shift on Friday night,
Daquan Dollar worked the same shift as Stansbury, and says he and his co-workers are taking the news hard.
“He was a good kid,” said Dollar. “He didn't have to die like that.”
Stansbury’s family marched with friends, neighbors and members of the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Sunday to protest the shooting.
“We believe that the top brass and the commissioner must examine the shooting in its totality and come up with solutions to prevent it from recurring and ensuring that officers are properly trained,” said Eric Adams, the head of 100 Blacks.
The protestors want to know why Neri's weapon was drawn during a routine patrol.
“An officer, unless he has a known danger,” said Noel Leader of 100 Blacks, “shouldn’t have his weapon out when walking in an occupied housing location and definitely shouldn’t have his weapon pointed in an upwards direction, unless he has a perceived threat.”
Commissioner Kelly said he didn't think it unusual that Neri would have his gun drawn. But many residents of the Armstrong Houses say such procedure is an example of the police doing more to create fear than protect the people. And many believe race plays a role.
“Every time I see cops, I’m shaking,” said Gene Washington, a resident of the housing complex. “I’m in fear of them. I’m scared of police.”
“The cops are going up there with their weapons out,” said another resident, Raheem Smith. “They’re nervous, and they’re intimidated by us. They do need to change the procedure and have them go in their with their guns in their holsters instead of having them out.”
Nothing can justify their loss, Stansbury’s family says, but they want his death to prompt change in the Police Department.
“Everybody knows what’s going on, so you can’t sweep it under the rug, and you can’t ignore it,” said Urasia Clayburne, Stansbury’s cousin. “Hopefully, our youth, our cops, everybody, will see something positive become of this, so his death won’t be in vain.”
A funeral for Stansbury has been scheduled for Friday at Friendship Baptist Church in Brooklyn.