By SOPHIE DWECK
It was a beautiful autumn day in downtown Brooklyn Thursday, but for one man, it was just another day of grieving.
Surrounded by a crowd of people in front of the Brooklyn DA’s office, the devastated Nicholas Heyward Sr. protested after learning that the yearlong reinvestigation into his deceased son’s case was once again being closed.
Choking back tears, Heyward Sr. still demanded justice for his son’s death 22 years ago.
“I stand here today, and I’m going to continue to stand, protest, and rally for the murder of my innocent son,” he said, as his supporters cheered him on. “I’m going to continue to expose the coverup of this case.”
On September 27, 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr and his friends were playing a game of cops and robbers with fake guns in the stairwell of the Gowanus Houses, when he was shot in the stomach by housing cop, Officer Brian George.
The officer claimed that he had thought the victim was pointing a real gun at him, so he retaliated in self-defense.
The late Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson recently found that the shot was legally “justified,” the same decision former DA Charles Hynes came up with over two decades ago.
Heyward Sr. told the crowd that Thompson, who died last month, used the same “scenario” and “evidence” that Hynes used. He said the assistant district attorneys who were working on the case in 1994 are still working in the office.
One of the protestors nodding her head in agreement with Heyward was Akai Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen. Gurley, the highly publicized victim, was shot in in 2014 by an officer whose firearm went off accidentally.
“It should have not taken 22-and-a-half years to hear the same thing that was said 22 years’ prior,” she said, while the crowd nodded. “It’s ridiculous, it’s a travesty, and unbelievable.”
Holding up a replica of the toy gun Heyward Jr. was holding when he was fatally shot, Petersen asked the crowd if it had looked like a weapon that an officer should be afraid of. “No,” the crowd answered back.
“This is the justice system we have, that looks at a toy gun, a grown man, and a 13-year-old child,” she said. “And this is a result of “fairly” losing a loved one over a toy gun. Brian George is a murderer. DA Hynes is a murderer. DA Thompson—a murderer—sold his soul to the devil. Some might say that’s a very harsh thing to say, but it’s reality and it is the truth. The scars that you can’t see are the hardest scars that heal.”
Another supporter standing at the protest was New York State Assemblyman, Charles Barron.
“Today, while we single out officers and single out cases, more than ever before, America needs a revolution,” he told the crowd.” “And if we have not said anything to make you think it should be a revolution, just look at the White House and Donald Trump. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will.”
He then asked the crowd, “What’s the solution?” they replied, “Revolution!”
Marc Fliedner, a past chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the Brooklyn DA’s office who quit last June, also spoke to the crowd in support of the Heyward family about the reopening of the case last year.
“We made him a pledge that we would work in good faith and respond to his request to the best of our ability,” he said. “I brought in senior investigators to uncover certain NYPD documents, physical evidence that it had maintained over the years, and we met with Mr. Heyward and the committee under a regular basis to keep them posted.”
However, Fielder and his staff faced a rough patch earlier in the year.
“As we entered the winter and spring of 2016,” he continued, “our civil rights staff was advised by a public relations person of the office, a non-lawyer, a political operative, that we were to cut off communication with Mr. Heyward and suspend these meetings. This and other politically motivated directives troubled me and I left the office immediately.”
To make matters worse, Fielder said that when Heyward Sr. learned that the case was going to be closed last week, the DA office replied that “the investigation had been closed sometime before [the meeting] with no charges against the police officer.”
As shown by the passion of the protestors, they will not stop until Heyward Jr gets the justice he deserves, as well as the other victims of police brutality.
“Falsified evidence is why they closed this case,” Heyward Sr. said behind his teary eyes and cracking voice. “I’m sick of this. I’m sick of these people who are representing the community and actually closing these cases of falsified evidence. I’m sick it. We need to really organize ourselves and put an end to it. I’m tired.”
A spokesperson for the DA’ office could not be reached for comment.