Breaking news reports said a young man was tragically shot dead by NYPD officers on Friday night, August 4th, 2023, after he lunged at them with a knife. The incident occurred at 540 Main Street on Roosevelt Island.
by David Stone
Update 9-10-2023: Body camera footage from three NYPD officers involved in the shooting has been released by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. The videos are graphic and should be viewed with caution here. A lightning-fast sequence of events shows the officers having no choice but to fire at the victim. Within a few seconds of his arrival in the 540 building lobby, he lunges at three officers trapped inside an elevator. With no escape route, they fire multiple rounds. Although he doesn’t die instantly, his wounds are ultimately fatal.
Neither NYPD nor RIOC’s Public Safety Department have updated residents with any follow-up details, including the victim’s name.
Roosevelt Island’s claim of being the safest neighborhood in New York City took another hit on Friday night.
Early reports say that multiple 911 calls – apparently from a single person – brought officers to 540 Main Street. A relative, police say, called because the young man was “off his medication” and smoking pot.
The Daily learned, though, that the 21-year-old man, as yet unnamed, was a familiar face along Main Street and had been observed drinking alcohol out of a brown paper bag earlier on Friday.
NYPD says that when three officers entered one of the building’s two elevators – with a fourth propping open the lobby door, the man suddenly exited the second elevator, swinging a knife at the officer at the door who ducked outside.
“The suspect then charged towards the elevator occupied by our officers still armed with the knife,” Deputy Chief Christine Bastedenbeck told reporters.
The three officers, she told medial members, tried to deploy a Taser and also shot the young Roosevelt Islander.
The victim was a familiar face along Main Street and, according to an acquaintance, unpredictable in demeanor.
He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Man Shot Dead Needs More Details
Early reports do not mention body cameras or other details such as what “tried to deploy a Taser” means. The rapid series of events, as detailed by NYPD, let little time for a Taser.
As for Roosevelt Island’s Public Safety Department, they apparently played no role, although the scene is steps from its headquarters. In one of his countless self-promos, earlier this year, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes claimed the Public Safety Officers had mental health training and knew “how to de-escalate situations.”
But as the story was mostly about Haynes’s magnificent management, that may have been more salesman’s puff than truth.
“Main Street traffic is shut down due to NYPD activity,” a RIOC advisory said at 12:48 a.m., more than an hour after the incident. “We apologize for any inconvenience. We will update you as soon as any information becomes available.”
But not until a little before 6:00 a.m., they followed up with, “Main Street is now open for all traffic,” as if that was all the information that became available.
Then, after numerous reports in news media detailed the killing, RIOC posted a cold-hearted and shameful advisory, rushing to claim some unidentified but vital role for PSD.
It was disgusting, lacking any empathy for a dead 21-year-old who’d been mentally ill or even for his family and friends.