Tearfully, she expressed the pain of a mother who now has lost two of her sons in the past two years.
With her head wrapped in a black scarf and her eyes shielded by sunglasses, Gray spoke to a room full of reporters while holding aloft a picture of a smiling Kimani wearing a blue cap and gown on the day of his middle school graduation. Gray lost her older son two years ago in a car accident.
“He was slaughtered,” Gray said of Kimani, 16. “And I want to know why.”
Gray’s death has incited several days of boisterous protests involving young people in East Flatbush, who are outraged over his killing. Amidst the melee, one officer received a gash to his face and another was pushed off his scooter. Two juveniles were among 46 people arrested, the majority charged with disorderly conduct.
Kimani, 16, was shot seven times by two plainclothes police officers, one black and one Hispanic. Police say the officers opened fire after Gray pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them—a scenario that sounds implausible to East Flatbush residents.
His mother said he was killed in front of his best friend’s house as he left a Sweet 16 birthday party. She said she doesn’t believe he could have pointed a gun at police.
But she added, “I wasn’t there.”
“He is not the public’s angel, but he’s my angel, and he’s my baby, and he was slaughtered and I want to know why,” she said.
“Today was very hard,” she said, pausing before she was able to finish the sentence. “I had to choose the color of the casket that I wanted.”
“Our hearts all have to go out to the family of this young man,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “So far, all indications are that the young man had a gun, and I can promise you that we will conduct a full and fair investigation.”
“I understand that there’s anger in the community, but the way to get answers is not through violence or law-breaking,” said Bloomberg. “We cannot tolerate that, and we will not tolerate that.”
A makeshift memorial has been erected on the sidewalk near the corner where he died, with bouquets of flowers, lit candles and poster with messages such as, “Love you lil bro” and “RIP Waking Angel.”
“Everybody loved him,” Shawn Burgendy, a friend of Gray’s who had stopped by the memorial, told CBS News. “Never had a problem with him. He was just around a bunch of bad situations.”
Burgendy was asked if he believed Gray would point a gun at a cop.
“He’s not that type of kid. He’s not a dummy,” Burgendy said. “He wouldn’t just go and pull a gun on the police. Who would pull a gun on a police officer?”
According to police, this was the 10th police-involved shooting this year, with a weapon recovered from every one. In 2011, police shot and killed nine suspects and injured 19, the lowest in recent years, according to a police report released last fall.
A lawyer for Kimani’s family, Kenneth Montgomery, questioned the police department’s account of how the teen died. He said the family wants to know how the gun was recovered and by whom.
According to the medical examiner’s office, Gray was hit seven times and had wounds in the front and back of his body, including his shoulder, rib cage, forearm and legs.
Kimani’s mom spoke about him as if he were still alive, using the present tense and saying she was still waiting for him to return home because of his curfew. She said he regularly served as a babysitter for nieces and nephews and recently got a bedroom all to himself.
“The past couple of days, the bell hasn’t rung,” she said. “I’m still waiting for him to come home.”