Officers in Kawaski Trawick case to face NYPD disciplinary trial

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Kawaski Trawick was fatally shot by a police officer in his apartment in 2019.
Facebook/Kawaski Trawick

The NYPD has scheduled a disciplinary trial for the two cops who entered a 32-year-old gay man’s home in the Bronx in 2019 and left him dead after one of the officers tased him and fatally shot him — all in a span of less than two minutes.

Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis are slated to begin their trial on April 24 of next year for their role in the death of Kawaski Trawick, who was cooking when police arrived at his apartment at 1616 Grand Avenue in the Bronx. Rosemary Maldonado, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of trials, scheduled the trial. The latest development was announced by Communities United for Police Reform and Justice Committee.

“Finally, after three and a half years of fighting, a trial date has been set,” Trawick’s mother, Ellen Trawick, said in a written statement on November 17. “We will be here every day of the trial, even though we have to miss work and we live far away, because Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis need to be fired and we want to make sure the Mayor and the NYPD know we are watching. We’re calling on New Yorkers to join us and we won’t rest until both officers are fired for murdering our son.”

Trawick’s father, Rickie Trawick, said he was glad that a trial date was set but emphasized that the case is “far form over” and that the officers “should have already been fired.”

In 2020, body camera footage and a report from Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark outlined some of the details that unfolded the night of Trawick’s death. The officers went to Trawick’s apartment at Hill House — a supportive living environment in the Bronx — after the building superintendent and a security guard called police and accused Trawick of annoying neighbors. Trawick also called 911 to complain of a fire and that he was locked out of his apartment. There was no evidence of a fire, but fire department responders helped him get back into his apartment.

Thompson and Davis subsequently entered Trawick’s home without his permission — and upon their arrival, Trawick was holding a serrated knife because he was cooking. He asked officers to explain why they entered his apartment, but they ignored him and directed him to put down his knife.

Trawick turned around to turn off a radio and again asked the officers why they were there. Officer Thompson proceeded to tase Trawick, who then fell to the ground. Thompson holstered his gun and walked into the apartment, at which point Trawick stood up and screamed. Thompson had thrown his taser away after using it, so he instead used his gun to shoot Trawick four times. One shot hit Trawick in the heart, the DA’s report explained, killing him almost immediately.

“In the video, it was quite clear that [the officers] had every opportunity to come out of that house and instead they stayed in,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams told Gay City News in a 2019 interview. “There was a knife in his kitchen — I don’t know where else you would have a knife than in a kitchen. [The police] just opened the door. Think about how you would feel if somebody opened the door.”

It has been a frustrating, years-long fight for the family, with several developments emerging in the aftermath of Trawick’s death. In 2020, Clark announced that the officers would not face criminal charges, and in April of last year, the NYPD told ProPublica that the officers were not disciplined because “no wrongdoing was found.”

Adding insult to injury, body camera footage obtained by ProPublica just last year revealed audio of police officers describing Trawick as “just a perp.” That drove even more outrage to the case, and in June of last year, the Civilian Complaint Review Board voted to recommend the firing of Thompson and Davis.

Williams has supported the family throughout their quest for justice in the case. Communities United for Police Reform and Councilmember Pierina Sanchez of the Bronx also joined the family in solidarity during a November 17 press conference about the forthcoming trial.

“The fight for accountability in the death of Kawaski Trawick has now spanned more than three years and now two administrations, and still there have been efforts to avoid even the scheduling of a trial, prolonging pain and increasing hardship,” Williams said on November 17. “Justice has already been too long delayed, but it cannot now be denied. Both officers contributed to this tragedy — including by escalating the circumstances that led to the shooting and failing to adequately act to save Trawick’s life after the trigger was pulled.”

He added, “Both must be accountable. As we continue to work toward protecting and producing public safety, it is impossible to make progress without accountability for past injustices. I hope that the coming trial yields consequences, and some semblance of accountability for the family of Kawaski Trawick who faces their loss today and every day for over three years.”

Sanchez also spoke out, describing the case as a “gross and unacceptable regression from accountability.”

“I am calling for the firing of the two officers responsible,” Sanchez said in a written statement. “A disciplinary trial is long overdue, these officers must face consequences for their actions.”

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.

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