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NYPD Cops Killed a Gay Black Man. Their Union Wants the Mayor to Dismiss the Charges

Them. 3/24/2023 James Factora

This article contains descriptions of alleged police brutality. 

The largest union representing the New York City police department has asked Mayor Eric Adams to dismiss misconduct charges against two cops who killed a Black gay man while he was in his own kitchen.

In April 2019, officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis fatally shot 32-year-old Kawaski Trawick while responding to a 911 call. Thompson and Davis are set to stand a disciplinary trial next month, after the Civilian Complaint Review Board found them guilty of fireable charges of misconduct in 2021. But lawyers for the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) have reportedly asked Mayor Eric Adams to dismiss the charges in what a group of 38 elected officials have called “a last-minute backroom deal.”

Last Thursday, the group of state and city representatives sent a letter to Mayor Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell asking them to deny this request. 

“This last-ditch ploy by the police union lawyers is fundamentally unfair to the Trawick family and to New Yorkers,” the letter reads. “In fact, the PBA request – made behind closed doors – is equivalent to trying to broker a last-minute backroom deal to prevent the disciplinary trial from moving forward.”

In the original 911 call, Trawick said that he had been locked out of his house, according to ProPublica. The fire department responded to Trawick’s call, letting him back into his apartment. A separate 911 caller had also reported that he had been harassing people and banging on doors with a stick and a bread knife in hand, according to ABC 7, prompting a separate police response. 

When Officers Thompson and Davis entered Trawick’s apartment without permission, he was still holding the stick and the knife and standing near the stove, according to surveillance and body-worn footage obtained by ProPublica. Although Trawick repeatedly asked the officers why they were in his home, Thompson — who is white and had been on the force for three years compared to Davis’ 16 years — tased Trawick against Davis’ advice. Upon being tased, Trawick started running toward the officers. Davis attempted to stop Thompson from firing, but Thompson shot Trawick four times.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent body that addresses civilian complaints about the NYPD, found that Thompson used excessive force, failing to follow the NYPD’s crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics. The CCRB also determined that Davis was also guilty of misconduct for improperly entering Trawick’s apartment, and for failing to seek medical attention for him, according to The City

Despite the fact that the CCRB substantiated those fireable charges, Davis and Thompson remain on the force four years later, largely because of the delayed disciplinary trial.

The letter from the elected officials also notes that since killing Trawick, not only have neither of the officers experienced any professional consequences, but Thompson’s take-home pay has also increased by nearly $40,000.

Ellen and Rickie Trawick, Kawaski’s parents, said in a statement that the police union lawyers’ tactic is “disgusting and adds to the pain our family has already had to endure for the past four years.” 

“Every time we think there's a chance for accountability it seems like the police union and Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis find a new trick to try to block what's right,” the Trawicks said in a press release provided to Them. “Next month will be four years since our son was murdered and Officers Thompson and Davis should have already been fired for murdering Kawaski.”

During a city council budget hearing on Monday, Commissioner Sewell claimed to have not seen the letter, despite the fact that nearly 40 elected officials signed it. 

Kawaski’s parents implored Mayor Adams and Commissioner Sewell “to do what's right and reject the police union lawyers' request so the trial can move forward in April.”

Pending Commissioner Sewell’s decision to dismiss or grant the PBA’s request, the trial will take place on April 24. Them has reached out to the Police Commissioner’s office for comment and will update if a response is received. 

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