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NYPD Kills Bangladeshi Teen Win Rozario After He Calls 911 for Help, as His Mom Pleads for His Life

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The police fatal shooting of Win Rozario, a 19-year-old Bangladeshi teen who lived in Queens, New York, has set off protests and demands for justice from the family. Rozario had called 911 in late March asking for help as he experienced a mental health crisis, but two New York police officers who arrived at the family’s home shot him at least four times within minutes after entering the Rozario residence. The NYPD claimed Rozario “came at” the officers with a pair of scissors when they fired at him, but police body-camera footage shows he was standing on the other side of the kitchen, several feet away from the officers, as his mother desperately tried to shield her son. “He needed help, and what they did instead was kill him,” says New York City Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who represents the city’s 39th Council District. She also discusses progressives’ ongoing efforts to pass a ceasefire resolution at City Council to demand an end to the war in Gaza, as well as Mayor Eric Adams’s crackdown on asylum seekers.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We end today’s show looking at another case that set off protests and demands for justice: the police fatal shooting of Win Rozario, a 19-year-old Bangladeshi teen who lives here in New York City, in Queens. A warning to our listeners and viewers: This story contains descriptions and footage of police violence, including sounds of gunshots.

In late March, Win Rozario called 911 asking for help as he experienced a mental health crisis. Two NYPD officers arrived at the family’s home, one of them shooting Win at least four times, less than two minutes after entering his house. The NYPD claimed Rozario came at the officers with a pair of scissors when they fired at him. But now police bodycam footage has been released. It shows Win was standing on the other side of the kitchen, several feet away from the officers. They’ve been identified as Matthew Cianfrocco and Salvatore Alongi. The officers first repeatedly tased Win. His mother, Noton Eva Costa, attempted to shield her son, begging police not to shoot him. One officer is heard yelling, quote, “Tell her to get the [eff] out of the way!” This is a portion of the bodycam footage. You can see Win’s mother begging and pleading with police officers not to shoot her son.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Get out of the way! Get out of the way!

WIN ROZARIO: No!

NOTON EVA COSTA: Please! Please!

WIN ROZARIO: Please don’t shoot my mom!

POLICE OFFICER 1: Get out of the way!

WIN ROZARIO: Please do not shoot my mom!

POLICE OFFICER 1: Get her out of the way!

WIN ROZARIO: I’m so sorry!

POLICE OFFICER 1: Get her out of the way now!

WIN ROZARIO: Please! My mom! Mom! Please! Please stop! Mom! Mom!

POLICE OFFICER 1: No! No! No! No!

POLICE OFFICER 2: Satchel, get me another car! [gunshot]

POLICE OFFICER 1: Put it down! [gunshots]

NOTON EVA COSTA: No! Oh my god! Please! Please! Please don’t shoot!

AMY GOODMAN: Noton Eva Costa, an immigrant from Bangladesh, spoke at a news conference outside New York City Hall last week.

NOTON EVA COSTA: [translated] These police were grown men with guns. They didn’t have to kill my child. I tried to protect my son. I begged the police not to shoot, but the police still killed him.

AMY GOODMAN: Win’s younger brother is also heard telling the police officers Win was having an episode and didn’t even know what he’s doing. This is 17-year-old Utcho Rozario at last week’s news conference.

UTCHO ROZARIO: My name is Utcho, and Win was my older brother, and I miss him every day. Win wasn’t just my brother. He was my friend and someone that I could talk to and a role model. In the morning, he would usually wake up before me, and when I woke up, he used to give me a big hug. Alongi and Cianfrocco stole that hug from me from my brother.

Win had a strong sense of right and wrong. He would always try to do the right thing. He was determined and disciplined.

When we first moved to the country, we didn’t really know what basketball was. And when we used to play basketball, people used to make fun of us on the court. So Win spent months training himself so he could become better than the people that he played with. And in a few months, he became better than the people that played for their whole life. …

The people that’s supposed to serve and protect us are the ones that’s killing us. The police was so aggressive and reckless that they could have killed my mom and me, too, in our own house. If someone, if anyone that wasn’t a cop did what Alongi and Cianfrocco did, they would have already been in jail. But yet they’re still collecting their paycheck from the city like nothing happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Win’s family and social justice community organizers are demanding the officers be fired and criminally charged.

For more, we’re joined by New York City Councilmember Shahana Hanif, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and the Task Force to Combat Hate. She’s the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, the first Bangladeshi American New York city councilmember.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. You were one of the people at the news conference. Tell us more about what happened. I mean, how many times, when someone is in a mental health crisis, their family members call? Win called himself and said, “I need help.”

SHAHANA HANIF: That’s right. What we’ve seen and learned from the family is that Win had called 911 in an acute mental health crisis. And as soon as officers arrived, two officers arrived on the scene, but we see that they were — they were upset. Their tone was that of cruelty. And right from going up into the house, meeting Win and his brother and his mother, they shot him. They killed him. He needed help, and what they did instead is kill him.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain. I mean, Utcho says it very clearly, Win’s younger brother. I mean, Win was only 19 years old. Utcho says, “They could have killed me and my mother.” I mean, they were wrapped around their — Win’s mother put her body in front, and they kept saying that she should get the eff out of the way. She didn’t want him to be killed.

SHAHANA HANIF: Right. And no mother should have to experience this pain. We’ve seen one too many times — Mohamed Bah, Amadou Diallo — the way in which police have murdered Black and Brown folks in New York City. And Noton Eva Costa’s shielding her son is such a poignant image of what it means to Black and Brown mothers when police is responding at the scene. Instead of asking to understand what had happened or saying that we are here to help, saying anything to just assure the family that they were here in response to a call, they ignored. They used expletives to curse out the family. It is not OK, what took place. And right now we’re seeing the family demand justice and accountability.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Utcho says that he and his mother were treated like criminals. Explain.

SHAHANA HANIF: Right. Again, the response from the police and also, after the murder, having to sit through interrogation as if they had been the perpetrators of this crime, and then not to get a word of sympathy from the mayor or the administration. And what we’ve witnessed from our top police executives is harassment of journalists, harassment of everyday New Yorkers, and even elected officials. They should be doing their job.

AMY GOODMAN: The mayor of New York, Eric Adams, is a former police officer. Has he spoken to you? You’re a city councilmember. You are Bangladeshi American. This family is Bangladeshi. You spoke at the news conference.

SHAHANA HANIF: No, he has not. And this is consistent with how he has treated working-class people. He made a campaign promise to expand New York City’s mental health response team in situations like Win Rozario’s. And they have failed. They have failed everyday New Yorkers. Families like Rozario’s will not be calling 911. And that is a direct result of this incident. And also, the Bangladeshi community is one of the fastest-growing working-class family — working-class face of New York. And right now we are reeling with the pain of the lack of empathy, the lack of really seeing the mayor show leadership as to what was committed by his NYPD.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about, overall, how the city police are supposed to respond? They get well over 100,000 mental health calls a year. How should they be responding in case like this, I mean, this one clearly identified as a mental health crisis?

SHAHANA HANIF: Sure. And that’s where activists, advocates and elected officials, like myself, Progressive Caucus members, are saying we need to be better attuned to what the needs are of folks calling 911. What we learned is that the Rozario family had not been new to this precinct. So, someone like him should have had — should have signaled to the NYPD or that precinct that, “Hey, we need to bring in some social workers or some mental health practitioners,” so that he gets the full assistance that he needs on demand. Other cities have shown us the way to do this. New York City has a very small pilot called Be Heard in some ZIP codes. So, we can be expanding that program. We have not.

And what we do consistently is send the NYPD in situations that demand a mental health response. And that just should not be the case. They are not equipped to provide the deescalation needed. However, they could have deescalated. They are trained. Police officers are trained to deescalate. They did not have to tase him as many times as they did, shoot him at all. There are other parts of the body. If they were truly threatened by Win in that moment of him holding up the scissor, they could have done many other things that they have been trained to do to deescalate, that would not have resulted in Win dying.

AMY GOODMAN: Councilmember Hanif, you were arrested in October, along with a coalition of New Yorkers, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The New York City Council has not passed a ceasefire resolution, though many other cities have. Can you talk about that? You also visited the Columbia student encampment.

SHAHANA HANIF: I did. I’ve been calling for a ceasefire with many of my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus, primarily. And you’re right: A ceasefire resolution has not passed. And I have been vocal about feeling deep disappointment and shame by New York City, which would be the largest city to demand a ceasefire. However, we are seeing what the results of not having a ceasefire resolution has yielded. Students across universities — Columbia, City College — I’m a former Brooklyn College student — campuses all across New York City are demanding divestment from Israel, a ceasefire, and better from their elected officials. And having been to the encampment at Columbia, I witnessed — I witnessed an antiwar movement. I witnessed what it means to demand an end to genocide and the killing of Palestinians, and demanding the release of all hostages. So, we are witnessing New Yorkers, students, young people in their early twenties, saying this needs to end.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, on the issue of immigration, can you discuss Mayor Adams dealing with asylum seekers? I think something like 200,000 immigrants have come to New York since 2022. You’re sponsoring a bill that would repeal the mayor’s policy limiting shelter stays for newly arrived asylum seekers to 30 to 60 days. If you can explain more?

SHAHANA HANIF: Sure. The legislation that I’ve authored is the Stop Shelter Evictions Act. This mayor has demanded an arbitrary, a cruel cap on how many days asylum seekers can stay at a shelter. And what we’re witnessing as a result of this counterproductive — again, there’s no precedent as to why 30 and why 60 days. Thirty days would be for adults, single adults, and 60 days for families with children. And New Yorkers are experiencing now the uptick in street homelessness, many more people in our subways, and also school-aged children, a thousand school-aged children, have been reported to leave the public school system as a result of these evictions. So, my bill would reverse this counterproductive policy.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much for being with us. We’ll continue to follow that bill. Shahana Hanif is New York city councilmember, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and the Task Force to Combat Hate. She’s the first Bangladeshi American New York city councilmember. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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