The family of a woman gunned down by a stray bullet during a police shootout nearby is demanding answers after they learned it may have been a police bullet that actually killed her.
Flowers and candles litter the stoop where 56-year-old Denise Gay was killed in the Labor Day melee. The beloved Brooklyn mother was just leaving her stoop Monday night at 633 Park Place in Crown Heights, trying to get inside once she heard the gunfire, when she was shot.
Newly released surveillance video shows the shootout between police and the suspect, but Gay is not pictured.
Linwood Valdez, who has known Gay since he was a boy, said the bullet narrowly missed him.
“We weren’t trying to stick around so I held the door open for her and as she was walking in, we hear gunshots and a bullet comes through the door and hits Denise and she falls down and takes me with her. It’s so tragic," he said.
The incident began when police say an argument erupted in a building down Park Place.
Police say Leroy Webster fired a 9 mm gun at Eusi Johnson, who later died.
But what happened next is not as clear. Police say they tried to get Webster to put his gun down and then eight officers fired at him, more than 70 times. Surveillance video shows him firing his gun and being fired upon by police.
The NYPD says ballistics tests show Gay was not killed by Webster’s gun. While it is possible Gay was killed by a police officer's gun, police say they cannot definitively say so.
Gay's family was too distraught to speak with NBC New York, but they did meet with Kirsten Foy, an aide to the public advocate. Foy, who was handcuffed and detained during a confrontation with police at the nearby West Indian Day Parade, said he believes in the NYPD but the community needs answers.
"You want to believe the best, but you also want to be vigilant,” said Foy. “So that if indeed police did step beyond their boundaries then we need to put safeguards in place so that those things aren't repeated in the future."
According to a tweet by Rev. Al Sharpton’s spokeswoman, Rachel Noerdlinger, the Gay family has reached out to Sharpton for help and he has agreed to help them press the NYPD for answers.