A New York City police officer on Monday fatally shot a man in a Queens apartment who officials said had pointed an “imitation gun” at officers who were responding to a 911 call reporting that shots had been fired at the building.
The man, whom the police did not immediately identify, refused officers’ commands to drop what appeared to them to be a real firearm, Jeffrey B. Maddrey, the Police Department’s chief of department, said at a news conference.
“It appears to be an imitation gun,” he said.
Chief Maddrey did not say whether the officers had worn and activated body cameras during the shooting, although the circumstances he described suggested they should have under Police Department guidelines. One of the officers fired “multiple shots,” he said, and hit the man at least once.
The shooting occurred shortly after 10:30 a.m. in a fourth-floor apartment at the Ocean Bay Apartments public housing complex in the Arverne section of the Rockaway peninsula, Chief Maddrey said.
Two uniformed officers responding to the 911 call came to the address, then went to the apartment based on an initial investigation, Chief Maddrey said. He did not say who made the call.
Lamont Davis, a porter, said he had been sweeping outside the building where the shooting occurred when two police officers appeared and asked whether he had heard anything unusual. He said he told them no. They told him they were responding to a report of gunfire, Mr. Davis said.
Two more officers soon arrived and asked the same question, he said. After a short time, two of the four officers left, bidding him good day. He said he saw the other two go into the building.
Chief Maddrey said a man who answered the door at the apartment let two officers in and directed them to a back bedroom, where a second man was.
The officers told the man in the bedroom to open the door, Chief Maddrey said. When the man did, he was holding what appeared to be a gun and pointing it at the officers, who told him to drop it, the chief said. When the man didn’t, one of the officers opened fire, the chief said.
A woman who identified herself as a neighbor said she heard the thump of something heavy hitting the floor around 10:30 a.m. (She declined to give her name for fear of retribution.)
The police officers performed lifesaving measures, Chief Maddrey said, but the man was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
Mr. Davis, the porter, said that minutes after he spoke to the four police officers, the two who had left came sprinting back. They ran into the building and shouted at him to “get out.”
Emergency services workers arrived, Mr. Davis said, and he watched as a young man who looked to be in his mid-20s was taken out on a stretcher.
“No moaning, no groaning, no toes moving,” Mr. Davis said. “The flesh can be alive, but the spirit is gone.”
Chief Maddrey said that contrary to what the 911 caller reported, no shots had been fired at the address before the police arrived. He displayed a photo of the weapon that he said had been recovered from the scene.
The shooting is being investigated by the Police Department’s Force Investigation Division, the chief said.
An initial review indicated that the man who was shot had not had any previous interactions with law enforcement, Chief Maddrey said, and that both he and the man who answered the door lived in the apartment.
The woman who described herself as a neighbor said the people in the apartment where the shooting occurred were a quiet family from Jamaica who had lived in the building for more than 15 years.
She said her daughter had attended Public School 105 with the man who was shot, whom she described as the family’s youngest child.
The woman said that her daughter had often helped him with his homework when they were children but that they had drifted apart after her daughter went to college in Florida.
“It’s really shocking to me,” she said.
The state attorney general’s office, which is empowered to investigate episodes in which police officers cause the deaths of civilians, confirmed that it had begun a preliminary assessment of the shooting. A formal investigation could be opened depending on the outcome of that assessment.
Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, who represents the area on the City Council, said she had been informed about the shooting and looked forward “to a thorough and complete investigation.”
New York City police officers fired their guns on 40 occasions last year through Dec. 23, according to department records. That was a 35 percent drop from the 62 weapon discharges recorded in 2022.
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