Was killed by the New York City Police Department in The Bronx on April 14, 2019. He was 32 years old.
He was a dancer who had moved to NYC from Milledgeville, Georgia. He was living in supportive housing at the Hill House which is operated by Services for the UnderServed. This housing is for people who have mental health needs, veterans, homeless and others who need assistance. It is funded by the NYC Human Resources Administration.
On this night Kawaski was cooking in his apartment. He accidently locked himself out of his apartment. He called 911 and reported that he was afraid that the apartment would catch fire due to the food left on the stove. The superintendent and the security officer of the building also called 911 to report that Kawaski was pounding on doors. The security officer reported on the phone calls that Kawaski was mentally unstable and possibly intoxicated.
The fire department was the first to arrive on the scene. The fire department broke the door down to the apartment and Kawaski was able to go back into his home. His encounter with the fire department was uneventful. Shortly afterward in response to the security officers phone calls, two police officers arrived on the scene. One of the officers was aware that the Hill House was a supportive housing facility. The other was not aware of that fact. Both officers were trained in crisis intervention.
The police officers state that Kawaski had a serrated kitchen knife and a stick when they entered his apartment. After two minutes of discussion the one of the officers deployed his taser on Kawaski. They then tried to arrest him. They claim that Kawaski got up and threatened them. Kawasaki was shot at four times. Two bullets hit him.
The NYC Police Department has not released the body worn camera footage although members of Kawaski’s family have seen it. His mother Ellen Kawaski said that before using the taser on her so he asked “Why are y’all in my home? Why are you here?” She says they never told him.