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Tensions Rise As Investigation Of Fatal Police-Involved Shooting Of Unarmed Woman Continues

The Scene of the East Flatbush Shooting (credit: CBS 2)

The Scene of the East Flatbush Shooting (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tensions in an East Flatbush neighborhood are growing as police investigate a fatal shooting of an unarmed woman by an NYPD officer.

The shooting happened at the intersection of Church Avenue and East 38th Street in Brooklyn around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Two officers in an unmarked car started pursuing the 23-year-old woman, identified as Shantel Davis, when the Toyota Camry she was driving came up as stolen, police said.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports

According to police, the woman was driving erratically and running red lights before she crashed the car into another vehicle. When the officers approached the car, she threw it in reverse and hit the gas, police said.

At the same time, police said one of the officers opened the driver’s side door with his gun drawn and tried to shift the car into park with the other hand. That’s when a single round was discharged from the officer’s gun and struck the woman in the chest, police said.

“I heard a ‘pow’ and then it sounded like a gunshot and then I came back inside and a little bit afterwards, I went back outside  and I saw the lady coming out of the car bloody,” said witness Samantha Christian.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

Davis was taken to the hospital where she later died.

But witnesses said that isn’t exactly how it happened.

“She did not try to put no car in reverse,” one witness said. “They were already on her, she had nowhere to go.”

“I saw the officer pull the lady out of the car, face down and she fell,” said witness Winston Vernon. “That was it.”

It’s still not clear if the officer’s gun was fired intentionally or accidentally.

Authorities said Davis was due in court Friday on a case involving kidnapping, attempted murder and gun possession. She also had nine prior arrests.

Police said the Toyota Camry she was driving was reported stolen in an armed carjacking on June 5.

But community leaders said the officer who fired the fatal shot, Det. Phillip Atkins, should also be investigated.

“The officer who did this shooting is known that he has two civil rights discriminatory suits against him currently and he’s known out here as someone who razes people,” said City Council Member Jumaane Williams. “So if were going to be talking about people’s records, I think we should talk about the shooter and the victim at the same time.”

One of those civil rights lawsuits was filed against Atkins, along with other members of the department, in April. They’re accused of unlawfully searching and arresting three people in the community.

Lawmakers are asking for a quick and thorough investigation of this latest incident.

“I am seriously concerned that the police may have not acted with good judgement,” said Assemblyman Nick Perry. “Deadly force appeared to have been unwarranted in this case.”

Williams also issued a statement early Friday morning asking the public and the police to remain calm as the investigation moves forward.

A memorial at the scene of a police-involved shooting that left a woman dead at East 38th Street and Church Avenue - Brooklyn, NY - Jun 15, 2012 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

A memorial at the scene of a police-involved shooting that left a woman dead at East 38th Street and Church Avenue – Brooklyn, NY – Jun 15, 2012 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

“I urge both the community and the NYPD to keep its cool in this midst of this tense situation. The facts surrounding this case are complex and will require a thorough and independent investigation to ensure justice prevails and public safety is not compromised,” he said. “Emotions are understandably running high, but we should not allow this to spawn any retaliatory or secondary violent activity.”

The shooting comes days after another NYPD cop was arraigned in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in the Bronx back in February.

Officer Richard Haste turned himself in Wednesday to face first and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham.

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