The family of a killed bodega worker, Reynaldo Cuevas, has called for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson to open an investigation into his death. The family claims there was more to the killing and that it was not as simple as the accident police have officially stated, and they point to video and witness accounts as evidence.
The family's lawyer, Sanford L. Rubenstein has also said they are prepared to sue the New York Police Department and the city for "wrongful death," depending on the outcome of the investigation.
"We believe that he was murdered," said Fernando Mateo, a spokesperson for the family, adding that "we want to know what the DA Johnson has to say about this case."
Cuevas was working at a deli on Franklin Avenue in the Bronx, north of Manhattan, when two gunmen took him and his boss, Felix Mora, as hostages, as allegedly shown in security camera footage.
At some point the two gunmen flee, probably aware of the police presence outside.
The video reportedly shows Mora and Cuevas taking the chance to escape and run out of the store. Outside, a cop is seen pointing his gun, according to the footage of another security camera. Mora goes out first, followed by Cuevas, who encounters the police officer. In a matter of seconds, Cuevas is seen laying on the floor bleeding from a wound.
Cuevas was taken to a hospital nearby, where he died due to a wound on his arm, doctors have said.
Outside the store on 1299 Franklin Avenue, where Cuevas worked, some people were seen late Friday night with candles and hand-made posters of Cuevas, asking for justice.
Initial reports about the tragedy were confusing, as the Huffington Post quoted a witness saying that Cuevas ran out of the store and was "tripped by a fire hydrant and then the cops shot him." Footage of the video shows Cuevas falling down to the floor only after his encounter with the police officer. A fire hydrant is seen in the footage but it's nowhere near the two people involved in the incident.
Another piece about the story by the New York Times, states that Cuevas "crashed into the police officer."
Also Commissioner of the New York Police Department, Raymond Kelly, said on Friday that both the police officer and Cuevas "collided," and that after that collision, "their legs got tangled, and at some instant, the gun went off."
Some mainstream media have remained mute about the case. Reuters, which has its headquarters in Manhattan, didn't cover the story.
"The video clearly shows Cuevas running out of the bodega and once on the floor Reynaldo Cuevas was shot. We also learned that the police officer had his finger on the trigger, which violates police procedure," said Mateo.
Kelly had a different opinion about the incident. "The tragedy here, of course, is that Mr. Cuevas was shot…But I see nothing wrong with the procedure," said Kelly.
As of Wednesday, the family of Cuevas was getting ready to take his remains to the Dominican Republic, where he will be buried.