The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office confirmed this week that they are investigating the growing scandal behind the recent police shooting death of a 57-year-old homeless woman.
Police shot and killed Yvonne McNeil at about 8:30 pm on Oct. 2 on the street outside the New Providence Women’s Shelter on East 45th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan where she lived.
At the time of the shooting, she was chasing a younger woman who also lived at the shelter with a knife. Police ordered her to drop the knife and when she didn’t, they pumped at least five bullets into her.
“My sources have revealed that the district attorney is investigating the case and may be presenting it to the grand jury,” said Attorney Jason Paris, who represents the McNeil family.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance refused to comment on an ongoing investigation.
While Paris filed a preliminary $85 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Police Department he said there have been some problems obtaining key facts involving the case.
“The ME’s (Medical Examiner) report is being held by the legal department of the medical examiner because the case is being evaluated as a possible homicide,” Paris said, adding he was not given the name of the police officers involved in the shooting.
Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has yet to respond to the life-threatening allegations that the shelter where the woman lived is rife with verbal harassment, physical beatings, illegal drugs and prostitution.
Several women living in the shelter told this newspaper that McNeil obtained the knife to defend herself from bullying in the shelter, which is rife with illegal drugs and prostitution.
According to one shelter resident, McNeil complained to authorities at the shelter a few weeks ago before she was killed that she was being bullied and physically assaulted by the woman she was chasing. The matter was never addressed, said the shelter resident.
Among their allegations is that the shelter has hired male parolees who work in tandem with some of the shelter residents in illegal behavior. That one resident who complained had her teeth knocked out while she slept from somebody hitting her in the mouth with a lock put into a sock.
The private nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless is the court-appointed monitor for health and safety standards for all of the city’s adult shelters stemming from a 1979 lawsuit.
Coalition spokesman Patrick Markee said Project Renewal is one of the largest homeless providers in the city and generally has a good reputation.
Markee did not respond to questions involving a written list of standards for the shelters or how shelters screen potential and current employees. He also didn’t respond to questions regarding if the Bloomberg Foundation or if Project Renewal gave the Coalition any allocations.
According to the Coalition’s tax filings, they received a $7 million spike in their funding between 2005 and 2006.
“We are still looking into this tragic incident, so we don’t have any comment for the news media at this time,” said Markee. “We do not normally do ‘reports’ on shelter incidents.”