We know for a fact that Kheil Coppin was 18 years old, residing with his mother and family in the first-floor apartment at 590 Gates Avenue.
We know that 590 Gates Avenue is often a “police response” location because there are numerous incidents there in which the police have continuously responded and many times, inappropriately. That’s a fact.
We know that on this day, Kheil was agitated and he was what was termed an emotionally distressed person. That’s a fact.
We know that on this day, sometime around 12 noon, Mrs. Owens, seeking assistance for her son Kheil, contacted Interfaith Medical Center and Task Force assistance from the Mobile Crisis Unit. The Mobile Crisis Unit told Mrs. Owens that they would send out a team between 6 and 9pm that evening.
As she waited with her son, Kheil continued to be agitated, and around 4:00pm, she contacted Covenant House to try and find assistance for Kheil. We know this to be a fact because the telephone records support those calls.
Just before 6pm, Kheil was hungry and decided to go to a corner store. The moment he left the apartment, the Interfaith Crisis Medical Team arrived. As a matter of fact, according to Mrs. Owens, they may have passed each other in the outer corridors of the apartment building. She spoke to them. She told them Kheil had just left and he would be back momentarily, but the Mobile Crisis Team said they could not wait. They could not wait ten minutes. And after having a brief conversation with her, they decided that Kheil was not a threat to himself or the community and they left.
Moments after they left, Kheil returned. Mrs. Owens told them he had just missed the Mobile Crisis Team and what she had done, Kheil became further agitated and she became concerned. She threatened to call 911 twice, to assist him to calm down. We know this to be a fact because she put it in her written statement to the police officers that night when she was interviewed at the precinct.
Her daughter Jenna, when she was interviewed at the precinct, put it in her statement that she (Mrs. Owens) threatened to call 911 twice.
Finally in frustration, she called 911 in an attempt to seek assistance for her son. So the police would come and remove Kheil and take him to a nearby hospital. How do we know this to be true? She put it in her statement to the police department. The detectives took it down, she signed it. She wasn’t making anything up. When she called 911 and Kheil was in the room, Kheil said he was going to tell the police that he had a gun.
Mrs. Owens told the 911 operator he does not have a gun. She was going to tell the police officers that he does not have a gun, this was silly, he shouldn’t do that. She put that in her statement to the police that night at the precinct. That should have come over the 911 tape.
Secondly, we know for a fact that the 911 operator called back to ask for a description of her son, as officers were on their way. She told them that Kheil did not have a gun. That was on the 911 tape. That’s a fact. Finally, when the police officers arrived (Mrs. Owens and her daughter opened the door, they were the only two other occupants of the apartment besides Kheil) she told the police officers at the door that Kheil was not armed. The officers asked her to come outside and she and her daughter exited the apartment and numerous officers went into the apartment and for 20 some-odd minutes, the police had Kheil cornered in the back bedroom of the apartment.
Subsequent to that 20 minutes, Kheil left the side window, there were shots fired and when they came out, Kheil was on the ground, under the adjacent street lamp with numerous bullet wounds and bleeding on the pavement. There was no gun, there was no weapon. This has left many questions that the family and the community want to have answered.
1. Why did not Interfaith Medical Center give appropriate services to the Mobile Crisis Team?
2. Why was there not adequate services from Covenant House?
3. Why did the police not heed the warnings by Mrs. Owens, the three warnings, that her son was not armed?
4. Why did not the police department implement its own guidelines for the custody of an emotionally distressed person? Those guidelines include setting up barriers, calling emergency services. Those guidelines include using metal shields and non lethal force. Kheil was in the apartment for 20 minutes and none of those guidelines were followed which subsequently led to him being shot down on the street with 20 some-odd shots on a crowded street. The question we ask is why was it necessary for the overwhelming use of deadly force. Five police officers. Twenty shots. Eight hits. Is there no proportionality? Is there no guideline for the excessive use of force? These and many other questions we have asked investigators to look at and consider. We’re calling upon the District Attorney’s office, we’re calling upon the Justice Department at the U.S Attorney’s office at Cadman Plaza to look at this and to ask these questions and find out why this young man is dead. Not for a self-serving reason, but we cannot have this happen again. Kheil Coppin’s death cannot be in vain. We are indeed distressed by the self-serving statements made by the police commissioner, whose only purpose, within 24-hours of this incident, was to serve and protect the interests of the police department.
5. The police commissioner did not have access to the apartment. The police commissioner did not interview the five police officers, on lockdown from the D.A.s investigation. How could he determine that in 24 hours? These statements can only possibly serve to possibly lessen the culpability of the police department.
On behalf of the family we ask for a full and proper investigation and accounting there needs to be answers as to why young Kheil is dead.