NYPD officer retracts testimony that partner made mistake by shooting mentally ill Bronx man
A Bronx cop testified Friday that his partner made a mistake when he shot and killed a mentally ill man who charged at them with a bread knife and a wooden stick.
Then he took it all back, saying the shooting was to his mind justified, and expressing regret that he earlier testified otherwise.
“I had to think about it,” Officer Herbert Davis said. “I thought about it. I made a mistake by saying it.”
The testimony came during the final day of a departmental misconduct trial for Davis and Officer Brendan Thompson, who is charged with unjustified use of force in the death of Kawaski Trawick, who was shot dead in his Bronx apartment four years ago.
At the outset of the April 14, 2019 confrontation, Davis told Thompson not to use his Taser on Trawick, who was cooking and refused to drop his knife, body cam footage of the incident shows.
Thompson deployed the Taser anyway, with the electronic jolt knocking Trawick to the ground.
Trawick, shirtless, got up after the Taser jolt. “I’m gonna kill you all,” he yelled as moved toward the cops. “Get out.”
Around this point, Davis said, Trawick briefly turned his back to the officers — leading him to briefly consider using his own Taser to try to subdue Trawick.
Davis said he even told Thompson, “Don’t do it,” when it appeared Thompson would shoot Trawick with his service weapon.
But then Trawick turned and rushed toward the officers, and Thompson fired four shots.
“Before you could do that (fire the Taser) Officer Thompson shot Mr. Trawick, correct?” said Brian Arthur a Civilian Complaint Review Board lawyer.
“Yes,” Davis replied.
“And that was a mistake?”
At that point in the hearing, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemary Maldonado called for a five-minute break. When Davis got back on the stand afterward, his position changed.
That’s when Davis testified he was wrong to have stated that the shooting was a mistake. Davis also testified that he would have been in danger if Thompson hadn’t used his service weapon.
“Is it fair to say if Officer Thompson had not fired his firearm, a knife could have plunged into your neck or his neck?” Martinez asked.
“Yes,” Davis replied.
Thompson testified during the hearing that his own Taser wouldn’t have worked in any case because Trawick was too close to them.
The NYPD in its internal review of the case cleared the officers of any wrongdoing and the Bronx District Attorney did not charge either officer with a crime.
But the CCRB determined Thompson improperly used his Taser and failed to immediately get medical help for Trawick. Davis is also accused of not getting medical help quickly.
Police had been called to the scene — Hill House, a facility for people including individuals with mental health issues — by building workers who’d described Trawick as threatening, banging on doors and possibly drunk.
Trawick, 32, a personal trainer and dancer, also called 911 because he locked himself out of his apartment while cooking and was worried because there was food on the stove.
Firefighters forced open the door to his apartment. Since the stove was not on, they left.
When the cops arrived, they went to the apartment to investigate and pushed the door open, setting the fatal confrontation in motion.
Thompson’s body cam captured the last 1 minute, 52 seconds of Trawick’s life.
Davis wasn’t the only one to change course during the day. Maldonado, the administrative judge, reversed course and aloowed the two sides to have oral closing arguments instead of submitting statements in writing.
Critics had said written arguments would have circumvented public scrutiny.
The CCRB has called for both officers to be fired, and said neither officer did anything to de-escalate the confrontation.