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Graffiti Artists Who Saw Fatal Knockout Won't Come Forward, NYPD Says

By Gwynne Hogan | September 19, 2017 1:58pm
 A month has passed since Curtis Valentine, 32, was found dead by his roommate on Aug. 19, and police have still not been able to corroborate accounts that circulated widely on social media that he was punched out in front of Head Too Heavy Gallery at 383 Bushwick Ave., a police spokesman said Monday.
A month has passed since Curtis Valentine, 32, was found dead by his roommate on Aug. 19, and police have still not been able to corroborate accounts that circulated widely on social media that he was punched out in front of Head Too Heavy Gallery at 383 Bushwick Ave., a police spokesman said Monday.
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — These guys are too hip to snitch.

None of the graffiti artists that witnessed a bike messenger knocked unconscious last month in what police are investigating as a fatal blow to the head outside an East Williamsburg gallery have come forward to police, stalling the investigation, according to the NYPD.

Now, Curtis Valentine's mother, who lives in hurricane-racked Florida, is appealing to the consciences of the witnesses, warning that they'll "be tormented" until they speak up.

"If you see something like that and you know somebody died and you're not saying anything, you're guilty as far as I’m concerned," Charmaine Castillo, 61, said during a phone interview from her Tampa home.

A month has passed since Valentine, 32, was found dead by his roommate on Aug. 19, and police have still not been able to corroborate accounts that circulated widely on social media that he was punched out in front of Head Too Heavy Gallery at 383 Bushwick Ave., a spokesman said Monday.

Castillo, 61, who works as a legal assistant, said she was desperate for answers about her son's death and incredulous that a crowd of people outside the gallery did not provide police with any information.

One eyewitness told DNAinfo New York that people  surrounded Valentine and filmed him with their phones as he lay passed out on the sidewalk.

"If they have a conscience, then their conscience is not going to let them rest. Somebody has a conscience. Everybody is not hardcore," she said. "If you can’t rest, there's a reason why you can’t rest. If you can’t sleep there's a reason. They’ll be tormented until they share what they know."

NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel said that the department is still seeking any and all witness accounts and videos from the night of Aug. 19 outside the gallery where they were hosting a tribute show for two graffiti artists who died recently from overdoses.

"Right now it's undetermined how he died," Grimpel said. "No witness has come forward and there is no video of the incident alleging an assault. I'm not saying he was assaulted. I’m not saying he wasn't assaulted. That has yet to be determined."

The Medical Examiner's Office had yet to determine Valentine's cause of death as of Monday, the office confirmed.

Jason Allen, a friend of Valentine's and an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Aug. 19 incident, said that Valentine was ushered out of the gallery by three men, before someone rushed back inside moments later to say he'd been knocked out.

Outside, Allen saw Valentine sprawled out and unconscious on the sidewalk, surrounded by a crowd of people filming with their cellphones, slapping him and pouring beer and water on his face to wake him up.

Curtis came to after several minutes and walked home, Allen recalled.

The next day by he was found dead by his roommate on the floor of their Bushwick apartment, having suffered head trauma. 

The owner of the gallery hasn't returned multiple requests for comment by phone or email.

Anyone with information about Valentine's death can call NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.