Police said no gun was recovered from the scene and officers determined that the man had been holding a "metal pipe with a knob at the end of it". Four officers, three in street clothes and one in uniform, fired 10 shots at Vassell, who was known to be mentally ill.
"There's a guy walking around the street, he looks like he's insane, but he's pointing something at people that looks like a gun and he's like popping it, as if, like if he's pulling the trigger", another caller said.
When asked about body cameras, Monahan said none of the officers were wearing cameras.
The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"It's not a crime scene!"
He added, in an apparent message to immigrants, "We want to know you, and we want you to feel comfortable to come to us".
"Ten times?" another man demanded, referring to the number of rounds reportedly fired.
"We'recommitted to conducting an independent, thorough and acceptable analysis", Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, explained in an announcement on Thursday. An executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed the attorney general as special prosecutor to oversee investigations into incidents where unarmed civilians die during interactions with police or incidents where there is significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and risky.More news: Pinwheels planted to draw attention to child abuse and neglect
Vassell's father also said that his son never acted violently and would, "just walk around the neighborhood and help people".
Vassell's father Eric also said his son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. (The Post's database has not yet been updated to reflect Vassell's death.) Of those victims, a reported 54 people had a mental illness. The dad said cops could have handled the situation differently.
"I saw him bring it in from the street", said Simone, who cleared Vassell's junk from the roof Wednesday and put it in a clear garbage bag, leaving it on an adjacent rooftop.
"They just hopped out of the auto".
"They didn't say "freeze, hands up, drop your gun", none of that", Jaccpot Hinds said. He was holding a metal pipe. NYPD representatives did not immediately respond to questions sent by email Thursday morning.
But Mayor Bill De Blasio didn't lay blame on the officers, who were not from the local precinct and were passing through at the time. You guys kill us! The younger Mr. Vassell, who was born in Jamaica and came to the United States when he was 6, lived with his family in a Crown Heights apartment and had worked as a welder.
Vassell's death comes amid heightened tensions nationwide regarding police accountability.