EAST VILLAGE — The death of an Avenue D man who was struck and killed on the FDR Drive last week after a police pursuit has created tension between some in the public housing community and the NYPD, community members and police sources said.
In the days since Makever “Keba” Brown, 22, of the Jacob Riis Houses, was run down by a livery cab on the FDR as he fled police, there have been incidents of tenants of the Riis and neighboring Lillian Wald houses hurling items at cops out of their windows and at least one arrest for disorderly conduct, police sources said.
The sources said that when police recently arrested a woman for disorderly conduct, she indicated that she was angry about Brown's death.
"It's been a little hostile," a police source said this week, adding that cops have seen "some reaction to that [death]."
Brown was approached by police late on Sept. 13, after he was observed making a hand-to-hand drug transaction in the complex, an NYPD spokesman said. Brown took off running toward the FDR Drive at East Sixth Street with police in pursuit, but cops said they lost him before he bolted across the highway’s southbound lane and was struck and killed by a livery cab in the northbound lane about 10:48 p.m.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. The city medical examiner said the cause of death was not immediately available.
The NYPD added that Brown, who had an open warrant for his arrest at the time, had prior arrests for robbery and drug possession. They did not say what the outstanding warrant was for. Police noted that a fake plastic gun was found in the vicinity of the accident scene, but that no drugs were recovered.
But relatives and neighbors said they didn't believe the NYPD's account of the events that led to Brown's death.
“Everybody’s angry. I’m angry,” said Brown’s brother, Lawrence White, 23. “I feel like they killed my brother.”
White claimed police watched Brown run onto the highway and could have done more to prevent him from being struck.
“I’m mad at police. They’re supposed to serve and protect,” White said. “They just left him to die.”
A makeshift memorial to Brown has grown steadily outside his Jacob Riis Houses building at 90 Avenue D since the incident, with flowers, candles and written remembrances filling the doorway and surrounding walls.
Family and friends of Brown, many wearing laminated photos of him around their necks, blamed police for the outcome and said the tragedy could have been avoided.
The mother of Brown’s 3-year-old son accused police of leading him to his death.
“It is because of the cops. They chased him that way,” said Fantasia King, 18. “He felt like he had no choice but to go that way.”
“The cops are here to protect people. They didn’t do that,” she said. “You’re here to help, and you didn’t help.”
Family and friends said Brown had three sons — a 7-year-old, 6-year-old and 3-year-old — and described him as a family who was well liked by many in the community.
“He showed respect for everybody,” said Iris Sosa, wearing a picture of him around her neck outside 90 Avenue D this week. “He wasn’t like a lot of kids out here who don’t have respect for anybody.”
Family members said they were able to raise nearly $2,000 in donations for Brown’s funeral service, with a viewing scheduled for Saturday at the Ortiz Funeral Home on First Avenue. They added that a large contingent from the public housing community is expected to attend.
Meanwhile, many are still trying to come to grips with Brown’s death.
“Just the way he passed, it’s unbelievable,” King said. “He wasn’t supposed to pass like that.”