The NYPD is disputing initial reports that a Staten Island teen, who fled a mostly White mob, died during the commission of a hate crime.
Dayshen McKenzie, 16, ran through various streets and even hid in a shed, before he collapsed from an asthma attack in a neighbor’s yard.
His friend, 19-year-old Harry Smith, says the whole confrontation began two years ago between a friend of McKenzie’s and a member of the mob, who argued over a girl.
The New York Daily News broke the story last week, reporting that two witnesses, Smith and Diane Fatigati, a former cop who tried resuscitating McKenzie, told police that a White mob hurled racial slurs at McKenzie and the group of friends he was with.
Fatigati now says she was misquoted.
CBS New York also reports that in an interview with radio station WCBS 880, Fatigati said, “I heard the ‘N-word,’ I heard ‘gun,’ and I heard ‘shoot you.’ In my opinion, it looked racial to me.”
“During the initial interviews, no one reported any racial or biased-related comments,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in an interview with CBS New York.
Boyce did say that police are questioning witnesses again in order to accurately verify claims.
Civil Rights activist Al Sharpton called for a thorough investigation and released a statement comparing McKenzie’s death to Michael Griffith, a Black man who died in Howard Beach after he was accidentally struck by a car. Griffith was on the run from a White mob.
But other officials don’t like the comparison and urge the public not to jump to conclusions. Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” that more facts are needed.
“We cannot rush to judgment on this. We need to know more,” he said. “We just don’t know enough yet to determine what happened here. I think it is important that people take a breath while the PD has a chance to really investigate and get right to the facts of this case.”