The 2019 police killing of out queer Black man Kawaski Trawick resulted in no disciplinary action against the officers involved in the incident, the NYPD told ProPublica, prompting the victim’s family to reassert demands for accountability.
“There was no discipline as no wrongdoing was found,” said an NYPD spokesperson who noted that the case underwent an internal review. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced last August that the officers would not be facing charges, saying, “we do not find that the facts warrant a criminal prosecution.”
Two years ago, Trawick, 32, was tased and fatally shot at home after NYPD officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis entered Hill House apartment in the Bronx at a time when he may have been experiencing distress. The police were called that evening by the superintendent of Trawick’s building and a security guard who said Trawick was annoying neighbors. Trawick also called 911 and claimed there was a fire.
After officers entered his home, Trawick, who was holding a serrated knife and a stick while he was cooking, repeatedly asked them why they were in his home. The officers never answered his question and instead asked him to put away his knife. Trawick walked away to turn off a radio before turning to the officers and again asking why they were standing in his home. Officer Thompson tased Trawick, knocking him down — and then, for whatever reason, Thompson dropped his taser. As Trawick recovered, Thompson shot at him multiple times, fatally striking him.
Following the shooting, authorities asked if anyone was injured, and an officer called Trawick “just a perp,” according to body camera footage.
Now, Trawick’s family and activists are urging for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a civilian-led group investigating police misconduct, to begin a disciplinary trial that would fire Officers Thompson and Davis from their current positions.
Ellen Trawick, the victim’s mother, blasted the NYPD for not holding the officers accountable for her son’s death.
“To find out from press that the NYPD is basically claiming the officers did nothing wrong when they murdered my son is painful and disrespectful,” Trawick’s mother said in a written statement provided by Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy group working to eradicate discriminatory policing. “My son should be alive today, and Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD should be ashamed of themselves for their refusal to fire Thompson and Davis and for making me learn this news from press instead of from them.”
She added, “Since it seems like the NYPD rigged their so-called review to protect the officers instead of New Yorkers, I am calling on the Civilian Complaint Review Board to substantiate charges against Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis so that they can be fired and can no longer pose a threat to other New Yorkers.”
Ileana Méndez-Peñate, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, said evidence shows that officers escalated the situation.
“We’re disgusted but not surprised that the NYPD’s internal investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of police who killed Kawaski Trawick, a Black queer man, in his own home,” Méndez-Peñate said in a written statement. “This is another example of Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD trying to gaslight New Yorkers by falsely claiming our eyes are lying. NYPD Officers Brendan Thompson & Herbert Davis escalated at every step.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams denounced the lack of disciplinary action.
“Kawaski Trawick deserved justice and accountability — he deserved to live,” Williams said in a written statement. “And our systems robbed him of all three. I understand the complexities of the situation, the need to make quick decisions in emergency situations. But I don’t know how you can look at this case, look at this video, and conclude that no one did anything wrong.”
In a 2019 interview with Gay City News, Williams said “it was quite clear that [the officers] had every opportunity to come out of that house and instead they stayed in.”
“There was a knife in his kitchen — I don’t know where else you would have a knife than in a kitchen,” Williams said. “[The police] just opened the door. Think about how you would feel if somebody opened the door.”
Williams stressed that the case represented a failure on the city’s part to properly respond to mental health issues.
“To say that there was no wrongdoing, in this case, is to blatantly ignore both systemic and individual failures, and invite them to perpetuate,” he said.
The news comes as a jury announced that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all charges in the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man who died with his neck pinned under the knee of a white police officer.
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