Sprinting through the streets and ducking behind homes, a Staten Island teen ran for his life as a racist crew chased him and his friends around the city. Unfortunately, the hot pursuit cost the teen his life.
Dayshen McKenzie, 16, collapsed and died from an asthma attack last week after witnesses say he was chased down by a mostly white crew shouting racial epithets and waving a gun, the New York Daily News reports.
One of the chasers was reportedly heard yelling, “I’m gonna kill you, n—–!”
Former NYPD officer Diane Fatigati witnessed the pursuit and considers McKenzie’s death a homicide.
“To me, it’s murder,” Fatigati told the publication. “They were chasing him — that’s a crime. You’re hunting them because they’re black … You’re calling them a n—-r.”
The ex-cop and 9/11 responder frantically tried to resuscitate the teen after he collapsed, but it was too late.
According to the New York Daily News, the incident reportedly escalated from a two-year dispute between one of McKenzie’s friends and a member of the other group over a girl. Fatigati points out that the crew seen chasing McKenzie and his pals was predominately white, with the exception of a Hispanic male. She also recalls that two of the cars involved in the pursuit had Pennsylvania license plates.
A run-in between the two groups behind a Checker’s fast food joint reportedly sparked the deadly chase.
“The guy said, ‘You got a problem?’ And my (friend) said, ‘You got a problem?’ and it went on,” recalled Harry Smith, one of the teens pursued by the racist crew. “They left, and they came back three cars deep. The guy in the first car had a gun.”
The group of Black teens, seven in total, fled the parking lot and sprinted down the block as the assailants’ cars followed not far behind, the New York Daily News reports. Smith recalled hearing the other group shout racist insults at them.
“They were calling us n—-rs,” said Smith. “I just heard a lot of racial slurs. They were mixed — some white, some of them were Hispanic. But nobody was black.”
McKenzie took refuge in a backyard shed as the chase continued in a large field between two houses. According to the New York Daily News, the pursuit ended when the teens heard the cops coming. That’s when McKenzie emerged from the shed and collapsed.
“Then we heard somebody yelling Poppa’s [McKenzie’s] name,” Smith recalled. “Poppa said, ‘It’s mad hot’ — and he just fell. My friend thought he was joking, then he realized he was really down.”
According to cops, the teen was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was never a target for anyone in the other group. Police also say McKenzie’s friends failed to mention the racial slurs hurled at them in their initial interview with authorities.
Fatigati asserts that she made sure to mention the racial angle of the incident to detectives although the teens didn’t mention it. Hate crime investigators plan to interview the witnesses again, the New York Daily News reports.
Tisha Richardson, McKenzie’s mother, was most shocked to hear about her son’s death.
“The sadness turns to anger,” Richardson said. “I want justice for him. Somebody should be held accountable.”
Richardson, 43, says her son suffers from a heart condition in addition to his asthma and forgot his rescue inhaler at home that day. She admits she’s always been overprotective of her son, who was an aspiring rapper, according to the publication.
“I never let him spend a night outside of the house, because I was so scared if he had an asthma attack, they wouldn’t know what to do,” Richardson explained. “So I wouldn’t allow him to spend the night out, and it still ended up taking his life.”
According to Julie Bolcer, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, McKenzie’s cause of death is still pending. So far, no one has been charged or arrested in connection with last week’s deadly chase.
Atlanta Black Star spoke with authorities at the NYPD’s 120th Staten Island Precinct to confirm these accounts.