Cops Who Shot and Killed a Queer Black Man Won’t Be Charged

"It is 100% clear to me and my family that Kawaski should be alive today."

Two cops who fatally shot a queer Black man in the Bronx won’t face charges for his death, and his family is demanding answers.

This week, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark decided not charge NYPD officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis for shooting and killing Kawaski Trawick, a Bronx resident and member of New York City’s house and ballroom community, in April 2019. According to NBC News New York, Trawick, 32, locked himself out of his apartment while cooking on April 14. Fearing he’d accidentally started a fire, he called 911 for help. The building’s super also called 911, claiming Trawick was banging on doors and harassing his neighbors.

The fire department let him back into his apartment, and by the time NYPD officers arrived, he was cooking again. According to The City, Thompson and Davis talked to Trawick for two minutes before tasering him. Trawick was ultimately shot twice in the doorway of his own apartment, yet Clark found “no criminality” in his untimely death.

In a media statement, Ellen Trawick, Kawaksi’s mother, said she and her family are “are heartbroken and outraged that Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark is choosing not to charge Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis for murdering my son, Kawaski Trawick while he was cooking in his home, on April 14, 2019.”

“After meeting with DA Clark’s staff, viewing surveillance and body camera footage, and listening to 911 calls, it is 100% clear to me and my family that Kawaski should be alive today,” Ellen added. “The officers who killed my son escalated the situation every step of the way by opening the door to his home while he was cooking, then yelling commands at him while he was nowhere near them, then tasing him while he posed no threat, and then shooting him. They rendered no aid and let him die on the floor. … My family and I are demanding that Mayor de Blasio make sure that both of these officers are fired immediately. They are a danger to New Yorkers.”

Clark’s decision comes after “almost a year and a half of her office dragging their feet on this investigation with almost no communication,” Kawaski’s devastated mother continued:

Last year, when I specifically travelled to New York City to get answers and view body camera footage, the DA’s office refused to let me view that footage unless organizers who were there to support me left. This is an outrageous way for an elected official’s office to treat a grieving mother and it is an abuse of power. I had to leave that meeting without viewing footage because they refused to let me have my support team with me. … And now, they are closing my son’s case without holding either of the officers involved accountable.

Clark’s decision is devastating but not surprising when I think about how they have treated my family this past year. Losing Kawaski has left a giant hole in my and my family’s life. Kawaski was a loving, non-violent person. He loved being around people and was always talking, smiling and laughing, so that we had to laugh along with him. Like so many New Yorkers and Americans, he struggled with mental health challenges. He was living at Hill House—which is a supportive living facility—in order to get support and care, but instead of being protected there, he was criminalized and murdered by the NYPD.

Clark is the same DA who opted for inaction after Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old trans woman and avid member of NYC’s house and ballroom community, died at Riker’s Island jail under suspicious circumstances.

As NewNowNext previously reported, Polanco passed away on May 30, 2019, while being held in solitary confinement. Last August, her family hit the city of New York with a lawsuit claiming jail guards deliberately ignored Polanco while she was in distress. Their claims were later corroborated by security from the jail, reports from NBC News revealed this June.

“If Kawaski were with us today, I know he would be demanding accountability and change so that what happened to him doesn’t happen to others,” Ellen concluded. “Since my son was stolen from us, my family will be fighting to demand that Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD fire Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis.”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.