Kawaski Trawick’s Mother Demands Justice 4 Years After Her Son Was Killed by an NYPD Officer


November 20, 2023


Housing, Law & Justice, News


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(NEW YORK) — Four years after a New York Police Department officer killed her son, Ellen Trawick stood outside City Hall on Oct. 10 demanding justice.

Trawick’s son, Kawaski Trawick, a 32-year-old, gay, Black man was killed by an NYPD on April 14, 2019 inside a housing complex in the Bronx  after the officer and his partner responded to a 911 call. Neither of the officers has been disciplined as a result of the incident. 

Standing alongside community organizers holding banners that read, “SAY HIS NAME! Kawaski Trawick” and “Black Queer Lives Matter,” Ellen Trawick expressed disappointment in how Mayor Eric Adams has handled the incident.

“The very least Mayor Eric Adams can do is meet with the Trawick family,” she said.

Captured in public housing surveillance videos and police bodycam footage on the day of the incident, Kawaski Trawick, locked out of his apartment, called 911 and falsely reported a fire at Hill House, a supportive housing complex in the Bronx.

Shortly after being let into his apartment by the New York Fire Department, NYPD officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis arrived in response to another 911 call, the video shows. The second call was from residents of the housing complex complaining about Trawick’s disruption. 

The two officers then entered Trawick’s apartment as he cooked. According to the surveillance and bodycam video, Thompson tased then shot Kawaski four times killing him only minutes after arriving at the apartment. Both officers let Trawick bleed out without rendering aid. A day after the killing, then NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told reporters, “It appears to be justified.”

In 2020, Thompson and Davis were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), established to oversee police misconduct, filed under Member of Service Records the police officers’ inability to de-escalate the fatal situation and brought administrative charges of assault, unlawful entry, and unlawful use of force against Thompson and charges of trespassing and failure to render aid against Davis.

In a draft ruling issued on Sept. 20, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado found the charges against the officers should be dismissed. Maldonado found that board prosecutors filed the case too late, five months after the statute of limitations had expired. CCRB argues that the delay was due largely to the fact that the NYPD took 19 months to hand over evidence, including footage from the officers’ body cameras.

Community organizers hold a banner that reads "Say his name! Kawaski Trawick"

Community organizers hold a banner that reads “SAY HIS NAME! Kawaski Trawick” [Credit: Katie Coss]

Then and now, a month after many community members rallied alongside Ellen Trawick in front of City Hall, NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban and Mayor Adams have left the Trawick family in the dark about what happened on the night of Trawick’s death and how the offices responded.

“We delivered a letter to Mayor Adams back in May [2023] and we didn’t get a response from no one in the Mayor’s office,” said Ellen Trawick.

Neither Caban nor the mayor’s office responded to The Click’s requests for comment on the case.

During the Oct. 10 press conference, Jawanza James Williams, the director of organizing at community organization VOCAL New York, read a statement from Kawaski’s father Rickie Trawick, who could not be there due to work. 

Williams later spoke with The Click to decry what he called an alarming response from the NYPD when interacting with people with mental health issues.

“The point of supportive housing is to create a safe space for people with unique and varied kinds of needs so the fact that he was killed in that environment is a reminder to all New Yorkers with mental health complexities that they are not safe with the NYPD.” 

Like many who come to New York City, Ellen Trawick says, “Kawaski came here to New York in 2019 to pursue a dream. He wanted to dance. But instead, Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis took his life.” 

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