Commissioner Bratton Releases Statement On Felix Kumi's Death


MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NYPD says a 61-year-old bystander has died after he was accidentally shot by a plainclothes officer during an undercover gun buy that went wrong.

Authorities said the bystander, Felix Kumi, died early Saturday at Jacobi Medical Center.

Investigators said it all started with an undercover buy of illegal guns. They said suspect Jeffrey Aristy, 28, contacted an undercover officer with the NYPD on Friday and allegedly said he had weapons for sale, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported.

Once the two met up in the Bronx, police said Aristy got in the car and told the undercover officer to drive to Mount Vernon. When they arrived at the intersection of Beekman and Tecumseh avenues, a second suspect got into the vehicle.

As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, one of the two suspects robbed the officer of $2,200.

“There was some discussion, and a gun was put to our undercover’s head,” said NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill.

That’s when the officer signaled to his backup team, which opened fire on the suspects as they fled with the money.

But two bullets struck Kumi as he stood on Beekman Avenue, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.

Grieving friends and congregants from the nearby Kingdom Hall, where Kumi worshipped, attempted to comfort the man’s family.

“He’s so wonderful. It’s not fair, not fair that he…just not fair,” said one friend.

“He was the best, just the best. He was like my second father. You couldn’t ask for a better man,” said another friend.

Kumi was a school bus driver for First Student of Mount Vernon for 20 years.

The company issued a statement, saying in part “He was an exceptional employee and was very well liked by his peers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

On Saturday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton released a statement expressing condolences to Kumi’s family.

“I wish to express my profound sorrow and sympathy to the family of Felix Kumi, an uninvolved bystander who was struck and killed by police gunfire during an undercover gun-buy operation last night,” the statement said. “Mr. Kumi was blameless, and this tragedy has tested and tried his family. I pray that they may find comfort in their hope of resurrection and awakening, and I tender the Department’s support and service in their grief.”

Kumi leaves behind a wife, two daughters and a son.

The suspect who had put the gun to the officer’s head was also shot, police said. He’s listed in stable condition.

Investigators said the suspect’s weapon turned out to be a BB gun.

“We believe the gun that was put to our undercover’s head is a replica of a large semiautomatic pistol,” O’Neill said. “It was found behind a house where the suspect fled.”

Aristy, of the Bronx, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale of firearms. Police said charges are pending against the second suspect, a 37-year-old man who has not yet been identified.

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