Over 1,000 people attended a wake for 16-year-old Kimani Gray over a period of six hours on Friday evening in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatlands, just shy of two weeks after the teenager was fatally shot by two NYPD officers. Attendees included City Council members Jumaane Williams, who represents Kimani’s district, and Charles Barron as well as City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu. They joined family members, friends, classmates, and those who didn’t know “Kiki,” but wanted to show their support.
Kimani was hit by seven bullets, three of them in the back, by two plainclothes NYPD officers on March 9th in East Flatbush. The circumstances of his death remain unclear, as the police department’s version of events differs greatly from an eyewitness’s account. Community members and activists from throughout New York City have held several vigils since the shooting, some of which have turned chaotic, including the trashing of a Rite Aid on one night, and another night that resulted in 46 arrests.
The NYPD claims the two officers repeatedly told Kimani to freeze, after which he pointed a gun at them. They then fired 11 shots, seven of which hit the teenager. An eyewitness told the New York Daily News, however, that Kimani hadn’t pointed a gun at the officers, and later told the Village Voice that one of the police officers stood over Kimani and shot him when he was on the ground.
The media was not allowed inside Caribe Funeral Parlor, where the wake was held, and photographs were prohibited inside the building. But several mourners described Kimani, whose family decided to have an open casket, as looking “peaceful.”
“He looked peaceful, but not ready to go,” said Will, a fitness trainer who had been inside for the wake. He described the scene as thick with emotion as a montage of home movies of Kimani growing up played on a screen. He also said that he and other members of the community were going to continue to plan events to honor Kimani’s memory. “We’re not gonna stop until justice prevails.”