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Teen Who Died While Being Chased Had Planned a Gang Fight, Police Say

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 3, 2016 4:18pm | Updated on June 6, 2016 8:24am
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GRANITEVILLE — A teen who collapsed and died while being chased had been involved with a planned gang fight and police do not believe his death was a hate crime, as had been previously reported, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Dayshen McKenzie, 16, died after suffering an asthma attack while being chased by a crew of mostly white people, one of which was waving a gun and yelling "I'm gonna shoot you, n----r."

Speaking outside the 121 Precinct Friday afternoon, Boyce said McKenzie's death appears to stem from a pre-existing medical condition and nobody had reported racial slurs being yelled during the NYPD's initial investigation.

"At this point it appears possibly gang related between two groups," Boyce said. "We do not consider this incident to be a hate crime at this point."

On May 27, McKenzie joined a friend behind the Checkers at 2270 Forest Ave. before a planned fight between two gangs, according to the News and Boyce.

While fleeing from the other crew, McKenzie collapsed and was taken to Richmond University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Ex-NYPD Officer Diane Fatigati rushed to McKenzie's aid and told the News that the group was shouting racial slurs at him while they chased him.

"To me, it’s murder," Fatigati told the paper. "They were chasing him — that’s a crime. You’re hunting them because they’re black... You’re calling them a n----r."

Despite telling the News she told police about the slurs, Boyce said Fatigati didn't report them to officers who responded to the scene, only telling police about them when they returned to question her on Thursday.

"That initially came up from the witness, no one else said that," Boyce said about the slurs.

"This witness has since changed that statement and says that she’s been misquoted in that it appeared to be a bias attack," Boyce said.

Boyce said that it's not known if a member of the other group had a gun during the fight, but no shots were fired.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Rev. Al Sharpton compared McKenzie's death to that of Michael Griffith in 1986. He was fatally hit by a car on the Belt Parkway after being chased out of Howard Beach by a group of white people.

Sharpton called on the federal government to investigate the incident.

"As someone who led the demonstration 30-years ago in Howard Beach, I read with horror what happened to Staten Island teen Dayshen McKenzie and there are striking similarities to what happened in 1986 to Michael Griffith," Sharpton wrote.

"We will call on the federal government to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime because, after the Staten Island District Attorney’s office (under the former prosecutor) showed questionable investigative skills in the Eric Garner case, we cannot in confidence rely on the DA’s office to pursue this matter to the degree the community feels will bring justice to the family of Dayshen McKenzie."

At the 121 Precinct, Boyce called comparisons to McKenzie's death to Griffith's "inadequate and irresponsible."

In a statement, District Attorney Michael McMahon said his officer was working with the NYPD to investigate the incident.

"We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Dayshen McKenzie during their time of grief," McMahon said in a statement.

"This office takes any allegations of a hate crime seriously. At this time, we have spoken with members of the NYPD who are investigating and we will continue to speak with them as this matter continues to be investigated."