Image: AP

Kimani Gray, the 16-year-old who was killed by NYPD officers in 2013 after allegedly pointing a gun at them, is back in the news. It’s worth remembering, when considering Gray’s case, that cops in the precinct where he died have a history of allegedly fudging with gun evidence.

NYPD sergeant Mourad Mourad and officer Jovaniel Cordova shot Gray seven times as he stood in the street in East Flatbush. A loaded handgun was recovered from the scene, and the officers said that Gray pointed the gun at them after they exited their unmarked patrol car to question him.

Three days after the shooting, a woman named Tinasha King who lives across the street told the New York Daily News that she was “certain” Gray was not holding a gun or anything else when he was killed. King was recently subpoenaed as part of a wrongful death lawsuit Gray’s mother filed against the city, and testified under oath that Gray’s hands were up and that he did not point a gun at the officers. (The city’s attorney did not directly ask King whether Gray was holding a gun at all.)

Someone is either lying or misremembering what happened, and without pictures or surveillance video, we can’t know for certain whether it is King or Mourad and Cordova. On the one hand, the officers have a more obvious motive for misrepresenting the facts than King; on the other, King witnessed the events from her window, a much further and potentially distorting vantage point than the cops’. The loaded revolver found on the scene is the only apparently irrefutable piece of evidence, and it clearly supports the officers’ story.

However, in the NYPD’s 67th Precinct, where Gray was killed, a gun recovered from the scene isn’t quite the infallible “smoking gun” evidence it might be elsewhere. About a year and a half after Gray was killed, a New York Times investigation revealed that cops in the 67th Precinct may have planted guns on as many as six different people in order to make arrests. One of the accused men had charges against him dropped after a judge found an officer’s testimony to be “extremely evasive” and not credible; in another case, a judge said there was “a serious possibility that some evidence was fabricated by these officers,” and that she believed the officers had perjured themselves.

The circumstances of those arrests were drastically different from Gray’s; none of men involved were killed, for instance, nor were they accused of pointing a gun at the police. No one is accusing Mourad and Cordova of planting guns, and the clique of cops who were involved in the potential planting cases have no connection to Gray’s shooting besides working in the same precinct. Still, while there’s no evidence that a gun was planted on Gray’s body, that kind of thing has been known to happen in his neighborhood.