Mourners gathered at a Brooklyn church Saturday for the funeral of Kimani Gray, a 16-year-old boy whose shooting by NYPD officers prompted community outrage and a string of protests.
Gray was shot by two officers in East Flatbush on March 9 after police said he pulled a gun on them. But Gray's family has been demanding an independent investigation into the shooting, arguing that no witnesses saw Gray with a gun.
The teen's funeral was held at St. Catherine of Genoa Roman Catholic Church, not far from where he was killed. Many mourners wore clothing or carried laminated cards bearing Gray's picture.
"He was funny. And he always knew how to put a smile on my face,'' said Sidonie Smith, a childhood friend. "Anytime somebody was in a bad mood, he always knew how to make them happy.''
Gray's father fled the church as the choir sang "Amazing Grace.'' Gray's mother sobbed during the memorial.
The NYPD deployed a large security force to the area around the church during the service, but there was no repeat of the disturbances that came in the days after the shooting.
The killing touched off demonstrations by residents who questioned the police account of the shooting and said they were fed up with aggressive law-enforcement actions, including "stop and frisk.''
Dozens were arrested at one demonstration. At another, a group of teens broke off and trashed a grocery store.
The Daily News reported that the two officers involved in the shooting were sued in the past for alleged civil rights violations. They are on desk duty while the NYPD and the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office investigates.
The teen was with a group of people the night of March 9, but left when he saw police in an unmarked car, police said. Authorities said he was acting suspicious when plainclothes officers approached him.
According to police, Gray pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, and they opened fire. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A gun was recovered at the scene, according to police.
The medical examiner's office ruled that Gray was hit seven times in both the front and back of his body, including his shoulder, rib cage, forearm and legs.
Gray was black. The officers involved in the shooting were black and Hispanic.
A police officer may use deadly force when the officer has a reasonable fear of serious injury or death. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the shooting appeared to be within those guidelines.