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Discipline trial begins against NYPD officers who killed Black gay man in his own home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Monday, April 24, 2023


Kristine Mikkelsen,

Eliel Cruz,,

On Monday, April 24, the discipline trial against NYPD Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis for the killing of Kawaski Trawick began. The trial will determine whether the officers will face any discipline penalties, including employment termination, for killing Mr. Trawick in his home while he was cooking, on the night of April 14, 2019.

Despite a heated exchange in the first half-hour of the trial between Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado and the Civilian Complaint Review Board regarding a last-minute attempt initiated by Maldonado for a pre-trial dismissal of one of multiple misconduct charges, all charges against the officers will be heard. Following a prolonged recess after the courtroom tensions, the Deputy Commissioner made clear that she intends to recommend dismissal of an illegal entry charge over the CCRB’s objections and before any evidence was entered into the record. Maldonado stated she would no longer be reading her motion to dismiss into the record as she had planned to do before the recess, and based on CCRB’s request stated on the record that CCRB had requested body camera footage in 2019 but the NYPD did not turn video over to CCRB until 2021. Following this, the CCRB and the lawyers for Thompson and Davis presented oral arguments.

"Today we heard Thompson and Davis' lawyers spew Disney-level fantasies contradicted by the video and common sense," said Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee and member of Communities United for Police Reform. "The facts are clear - Thompson and Davis illegally entered Kawaski's home, tased and shot him four times without justification - all within 112 seconds and made no attempt to help save his life. It's good that the CCRB made clear today that the NYPD trial judge doesn't have the authority to try to toss the charge at this stage but it's outrageous that at every turn the NYPD has tried to obstruct accountability."

"My son Kawaski was never a threat and the video shows that Thompson and Davis created a crisis and murdered my son," said Ellen Trawick, mother of Kawaski Trawick. "I'm very concerned that the NYPD judge is acting like she's a lawyer for the police who murdered my son - she basically said she was going to recommend the illegal entry charge be dismissed even before any evidence was introduced in the trial today. The video shows Herbert Davis use his baton to break the chain on Kawaski's door - that was an illegal entry that anyone can see."

On April 14, 2019, Kawaski Trawick locked himself out of his apartment while he was cooking. The fire department let Mr. Trawick back into his apartment without incident. Mr. Trawick was cooking in his home after the situation had been resolved when NYPD Officers Thompson and Davis illegally entered Mr. Trawick’s apartment by using a baton to break the chain on his door, and killed him in 112 seconds.

After tasing and shooting Mr. Trawick, neither of the officers attempted to administer emergency medical aid. They closed the door to Kawaski’s apartment, then stood outside, leaving Mr. Trawick to bleed out on the floor.

"Thompson and Davis should have been fired four years ago," said Rickie Trawick, father of Kawaski Trawick. "It was very hard to listen to lies from Thompson and Davis' lawyers, it's almost like they're trying to murder my son all over again."

When Kawaski was first killed, the de Blasio administration refused to immediately release the names of officers. Kawaski Trawick was killed before COVID but the NYPD didn’t release footage for 20 months - well into the second year of the pandemic, only after being forced to by a lawsuit.

While the NYPD refused to substantiate misconduct charges against the officers, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated multiple charges against both Thompson and Davis in June of 2021. The NYPD formally served the CCRB charges on the officers in October 2021.

The Adams administration has continued with de Blasio-era delays and obstruction. At a pre-trial conference this month, the NYPD changed the dates of the trial because an NYPD official who wasn’t a witness to the killing, but will testify on the officer’s behalf, will be on vacation during the original trial dates -- even though the dates were confirmed last year. As a result, the trial will be interrupted by a two-week adjournment after the majority of the prosecution’s case - giving the defense more time to prepare. At the same hearing, the CCRB reported that the NYPD still hadn’t turned all requested files over.

A week ago, on the four-year anniversary of Kawaski’s killing, the NYPD decided they wanted to consider a last-minute, pre-trial dismissal of one of multiple misconduct charges substantiated in 2021. NYPD set a deadline of the following business day for written filings and rejected CCRB’s request for oral arguments. Despite this legal maneuvering, all substantiated charges will currently be heard.

Mr. Trawick was a Black gay man, a son, and a brother pursuing his dreams as a dancer, aerobics, and fitness instructor in New York City before those dreams and his life was cut short at the hands of NYPD Officers Thompson and Davis.

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