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Family, Friends Remember Bodega Worker NYPD Says Was Accidentally Shot

Loved Ones Contend Police Are Solely To Blame For Reynaldo Cuevas' Death
Reynaldo Cuevas (credit: Family handout)

Reynaldo Cuevas (credit: Family handout)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A young man killed by police while trying to escape a robbery was remembered Tuesday evening.

Friends and family gathered for Reynaldo Cuevas’ wake in Washington Heights.

As they filed in with flowers to remember Cuevas, some came with fury over how he died.

“The cops should get fired,” friend Isaac Alcantia said.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon With More On The Story

It was early Friday morning when police said one of their officers accidentally killed the 20-year-old Cuevas as he was fleeing a gunpoint robbery in a bodega.

“The cops could have done something else. He already had him on the floor. Why? Shoot him somewhere else in the leg where he could not get killed,” said the victim’s friend, Maria Valdez.

Surveillance video showed Cuevas, a clerk who had just finished his shift, running out of the store with his head down into the arms of an arriving officer who had his gun drawn. The two fell to the ground and that’s when the bullet was fired.

“He was a good, a good brother. The best, was everything we had,” Jimmy Cuevas said.

Family members said Reynaldo Cuevas was working to help support his daughter in the Dominican Republic.

Jimmy Cuevas said his brother’s death is solely the fault of the officer.

“He had to pull the trigger. It’s not like it’s going to go off by itself,” he said.

According to his brother, Reynaldo Cuevas was working to help support his daughter in the Dominican Republic.

“He was gonna go get his daughter in the Dominican Republic so he can bring her over here, so she could have a better life,” Jimmy Cuevas said.

As friends were overcome with emotion, some wiping away tears, other sat against a wall in utter disbelief. Family who arrived to say goodbye had few words.

“Very difficult. I cannot even express that,” said the victim’s cousin Joel Delorde. “I just want to spend time with my cousin.”

Reynaldo Cuevas’ own father died from gun violence in the Dominican Republic. He was shot two years ago by robbers trying to take his gold chain, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.

Despite the Bronx district attorney promising an independent investigation, Cuevas’ family is demanding a grand jury to investigate what happened. A lawsuit is expected.

“Down the road, we’ll look at civil culpability, but at this point in time this family wants justice and what that means is, if a criminal act was committed by this police officer, that it be prosecuted,” said Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for the family.

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