EAST NEW YORK, BROOKLYN (PIX11)—The family of Duane Browne, the man who was shot by police in his home, told PIX11 News that the NYPD has left them in the dark about the investigation into the fatal shooting. The family also criticized how the department handled their grieving process.
"They're telling us that we can't view his body because he's under arrest," Browne's sister Neola Kyte said. "How can a dead person be under arrest? Come on, we just need some answers."
She and four other family members waited in their Honda sedan across the street from her mother's home at 943 Schenck Avenue, which was the scene of the 10:30 Thursday night shooting. The family had to stay away from the home while investigators carried out the tasks required after any police-involved shooting, particularly a fatal one. Crime scene technicians and other police have to go over every inch of the scene closely, and multiple times.
Browne's family told PIX11 News that they understand that officers have a job to do, but that they were frustrated over not being given even minimal information from police about the investigation into their loved one's death.
"I feel that this time that they're taking," Shawnte Brown, cousin of the shooting victim, said about the extensive crime scene investigation, "They're taking it to cover their tracks."
Witnesses told PIX11 News that police commissioner Raymond Kelly came to the scene after sunrise Friday to inspect the situation and get an on-scene briefing. There was speculation in the wake of that visit that the commissioner would give some sort of public briefing Friday morning about the situation, possibly even appearing at an unrelated news conference regarding the NYPD's efforts to break up a heroin ring. The commissioner was not in attendance; a high ranking police official who had worked extensively on the heroin ring investigation helped to lead the news conference, however.
Instead, Commissioner Kelly opted to hold off on any public comment until late afternoon -- almost 5:00 -- when more details had been gathered and analyzed by his department. That studied, cautious delay in information, however, left some people in the East New York community joining Duane Browne's family in viewing police suspiciously.
"We want a thorough investigation," East New York city council member Charles Barron told PIX11 News. "What we don't want is a thorough cover up."
The shooting victim's cousin echoed that sentiment, as tears rolled down her face. "I just want them to do their job and to make sure that they're held accountable," Shawnte Brown said. "Because my cousin wasn't supposed to die last night, not the way that he did."
Police wrapped up their investigation and let the family return to the home around 4:25 Friday afternoon, about 18 hours after the shooting. Duane Browne's family told PIX11 News on their way back inside that they were unhappy with how long it took to be allowed to return in order to mourn and lay flowers.