Posted by: communitycop | November 13, 2007

Teen shot to death by NYPD who mistake hairbrush for gun

By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – A teenager died in a hail of 20 bullets fired by police officers who thought he was holding a gun, authorities said Tuesday. The object turned out to be a hairbrush.

A 911 operator heard the teen yelling that he had a gun, police said.

But the case nonetheless evoked painful memories of previous police shootings: the November 2006, 50-bullet barrage that killed the unarmed Sean Bell on his wedding day, and the 1999 killing of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, who was hit by 19 of the 41 shots fired by police in the Bronx.

“The circumstances of how it occurred at this point is under investigation and you can rest assured that we will take this very seriously,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Officers received the 911 call from the teen’s mother around 7 p.m. Monday, police spokesman Paul Browne said. The 911 operator could hear the teen yelling in the background, claiming he had a gun, Browne said.

When officers arrived at the Brooklyn apartment building, they could see the 18-year-old, Khiel Coppin, pacing inside the first-floor apartment. His mother was outside.

The teen’s mother had attempted to have him hospitalized earlier in the day, Browne said. He said the teen had a history of mental illness.

The teen began screaming from a window at his mother and officers before climbing out of the window and heading toward the officers holding a black object in his hand, police said.

The officers ordered him to stop, Browne said. When the teen refused and kept approaching them, they opened fire, he said.

Police said it was not immediately known how many of the 20 bullets struck Coppin, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Investigators later discovered the object the teen was holding was a hairbrush, Browne said.



  1. What race was the poor guy?
    It seems every time a black guy gets shot- it’s always noted in the story. But when its a white guy, it’s either not reported at all, or gets minimal headlines.
    Some goes for dead youths, football jocks get more headlines then their nerdy counterparts.

  2. The bigger question is how can the cops fire 20 rounds and only hit with 8? Talk about a danger to public safety. Sounds like they need some remedial time at the firing range.

  3. 20 shots fired and only 8 hit the target.. Where is the world class training we pay for with our taxes.

  4. If the kid does have a gun and kills a cop then a family is without a father, a meal provider and a mentor. It is sad that someone died but cops put their life on the line everyday. How about the cop in philly who goes to the same dunkin donuts he visits daily and a guy who robbed the place once happens to show up at the same time and shoots the cop in the head. There are obviously some bad cops out there but I am tired of everytime a black person gets shot big mouth Sharpton shows up.

  5. What were the cops to do? Damn it. Damn it. What a terrible outcome. Who’s to blame. Is there blame? What can we do in the future? There was a Black 12 year old killed this past June because he too was thought to be armed when approached by officers.
    These two cases are probably only the headline makers. Society what do we do? What can we do to prevent or have less fatal outcomes under similar circumstances? Damn it. Damn it again. What must we do? Lord knows we all must find answers. Thanks for listening signed an American named Harry

  6. Bigups to American Named Harry!!! What can we do? Somehow the police believe they can shoot with immunity, Police Commissioner Kelly stated he believed the cops followed police guidelines. I believe if the cops were trained properly and had more sensitivity towards the people who they are working for they may have not been so quick to shoot. Did anyone say “Drop your weapon? How about “Put your hands up, Get on the ground” Something? Nooooo! They just began to shoot and one of the police officers told his partner to “Stop Shooting, he doesn’t have a gun!” and the officer just kept firing like he was Rambo or something. This has got to stop.

    If the consequences of police officers were they will lose their pension, homes or job if you shoot unjustifiably then maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to shoot.

    And this is not just a black thing Eric!

    There are white Latinos, Asian who are shot down by police too. Thank God for Rev Al Sharpton who opens his big mouth and challenges the police department for these shootings. If you look at the statistics police stop more blacks and Latinos everyday-violating their constitutional rights and someone has to challenge that. When Gideon Bush, a Jewish man was killed by police the Jews came out in numbers, did anyone question why they came out?

    We all represent our races, nationalities and cultures especially when we are affected by what appears to be an epidemic. I don’t see anything wrong with that, as a matter of fact, Sharpton is not the only one speaking out, he’s just the one who appears to be making the most noise.

    A poor young man has lost his life once again at the hands of police and based on the Police Commissioners statement “They were justified in killing him”

    Is that okay ERIC???

  7. […] Are you Black, Brown or simply not white? Or, regardless of color, do you dress in alternative clothing? And last, but certainly not least; are you a Muslim? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are more likely to be a victim of police brutality or harassment. Are you a Black man who carries your ID? Well, if so, be sure you don’t pull it out, like precious Amadou Diallo (may he be at peace now, wherever he is), did back in 1999, as the cops may mistake it for a gun and shoot at you over 41 times, kill you and walk away all because they can. And be careful if you are a Black male with a hairbrush in the hallway of your apartment. Why? Well of course the police probably will mistake that hairbrush for a gun, and kill you in a round of over 20 bullets, just as they disgustingly killed a young teenager who suffered from mental illness back in 2007. (May you be at peace now on your journey, dear soul.) [For more on this young man, please click HERE.) […]

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