Twenty-seven-year-old Tamon Robinson died last week when he was taken off of a respirator by his family after a police chase left him brain-dead. Robinson was allegedly spotted two weeks ago stealing cobblestones from a housing project in Brooklyn, and ran from police toward the apartment building. According to witnesses, as reported in the Times today, NYPD officers turned their police car into Robinson and sent him flying into the air, but police dispute those accounts, and Internal Affairs has opened an investigation. "Even if he was stealing paving stones, the penalty for stealing paving stones is not death," said a lawyer for the man's family, who will rally with Al Sharpton over the weekend.
According to the NYPD, the car was stopped when Robinson, who was 27 and unarmed, ran into it. "Whether he tried to hurdle it, or just slammed into the car, and fell back, that's what he did," said a police inspector. But one witness told the Times, "He made a turn to come into the walkway, and the cop sped up and he hit him." Another corroborated that version of events: "They hit him," she said. "He flew up and he came down. They backed the car up, and they told him to get up."
"There are witnesses who observed police handcuff him, smack him in the face, tell him to wake up," said a lawyer for the family. "We've asked for an order in supreme court to preserve the police car for our accident reconstruction expert and also any film taken from the police car or at the housing project." Robinson was handcuffed to his hospital bed and his room was assigned a police guard, but the charges were dropped when it became clear that he wouldn't be waking up.
"They never came to me still to this day and said that your son was involved in any kind of incident or anything. Nothing, I didn't even know," said his mother. "If they would have brought him right away, they could've saved him."
Rev. Sharpton will host a National Action Network rally for Robinson on Saturday.