NYPD Veteran Officer in Medically Induced Coma Improving: Source

officer lesly lafontant
Lesly Lafontant

What to Know

  • An NYPD officer who was placed in a medically-induced coma showed signs of improvement Saturday, a law enforcement source said
  • The officer shot and killed a man, identified by police sources as 33-year-old Kwesi Ashun
  • Law enforcement sources identified the officer as 53-year-old Lesly Lafontant

An NYPD officer who was placed in a medically induced coma showed signs of improvement Saturday, a law enforcement source said.

The officer shot and killed a man, identified by police sources as 33-year-old Kwesi Ashun, who struck the officer in the head with a chair at a Brooklyn salon, forcing doctors to place him in the coma, police said.

Law enforcement sources identified the officer as 53-year-old Lesly Lafontant. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to investigate the death of Ashun, whose family says he had a mental illness. 

"This is a very serious situation but the one thing that we know from the information we have so far is the civilian assaulted a police officer violently and that is not acceptable," de Blasio said Saturday. 

Police said the man, identified by police sources as 33-year-old Kwesi Ashun, entered the Gold Mine nail salon in Brownsville while police were attempting to arrest an individual who began urinating on the floor, NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said during a press conference.

Ashun began a violent struggle with the officers, leading to one of them using their stun gun on him, but it failed to subdue him, according to Harrison.

That was when Ashun used a chair and struck one of the officers in the head, police said. The cop that was hit then fired his gun six times, striking Ashun in the head and shattering the front window of the salon, according to a law enforcement source. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Harrison said.

The officer who fired his weapon, who has been a member of the department for 21 years, was taken to Brookdale Hospital and was placed in a medically-induced coma as he was in critical but stable condition.

"We do not allow assaults on our police officers. But there's going to be a full investigation here to understand what happened," the mayor said.

The 26-year-old man who urinated on the salon floor was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, the NYPD said. He was later released under supervision.

"An attack on a uniformed officer doing his duty is an attack on society at large, and we can't have that," First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said.

The other officer was treated for tinnitus at Kings County Hospital, and has been released. The man who police were initially trying to arrest has been brought into custody, with charges pending.

"It seems like it has only been days since we had to rush to a hospital — because it is," Lynch said. "This police officer spent his career in our busiest precincts serving the community and he was set upon for no reason. There is never, ever an acceptable reason to attack a New York City police officer."

Ashun allegedly had some history with the NYPD dating back more than a decade, when he allegedly slashed an officer on the side of the head with a knife and injured a second officer in Brooklyn in 2004, according to the New York Times. In that incident, the suspect was subdued with pepper spray.

A state legislator from Brooklyn was in the area at the time of the shooting and described a scene of "mayhem."

"Children were running," Assemblywoman Latrice Walker said. "Families were afraid. My daughter was screaming."

She added, "Our community is definitely traumatized today because this was a senseless death."

This is the latest in a string of police-involved shootings across the city in recent weeks. There have been six police-involved shootings across New York City since the end of September, five of which have now been fatal.

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