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A 19-year-old man in mental distress, Win Rozario, was fatally shot by police in his Queens home after he threatened officers with a pair of scissors. The Police Department’s chief of patrol stated that the situation became chaotic and dangerous when officers tried to take Rozario into custody, and he grabbed the pair of scissors. The officers fired their Tasers, but Rozario’s mother accidentally knocked them out of his body when trying to help him. Following this, Rozario picked up the scissors again and came at the officers, leading them to defend themselves by discharging their firearms. The entire incident was captured on officers’ body-worn cameras, but the footage was not immediately released. Rozario’s family contradicted the police account, with his brother stating that their mother was holding Rozario when he was shot, believing the use of force was unnecessary.

Rozario, originally from Bangladesh, had aspirations to join the U.S. military, but his plans were delayed due to a hold-up with the family’s green cards, which were approved last year. Described as a good tenant who was always on time with rent payments, the Rozario family had been living in the apartment for four years. Win had graduated from John Adams High School and had recently been struggling with depression, being hospitalized briefly for mental health issues the previous year. The incident with the police marks the third fatal shooting by police in New York in the past two months, highlighting concerns about the use of force in such situations and the need for increased mental health services.

In an effort to prevent situations like Rozario’s from escalating into violent encounters, New York City launched a pilot program in spring 2021, where mental health professionals and emergency medical workers respond to some 911 calls regarding mental health crises in select police precincts. The program has been deemed effective and has been expanded to more precincts, although it is not yet citywide. The 102nd Precinct, where Rozario was shot, does not currently have this program in place. Queens borough president Donovan Richards emphasized the importance of investing in comprehensive mental health services in the wake of Rozario’s death, calling for urgent action at all levels of government to address these issues. The incident has sparked conversations about police response to mental health crises and the need for alternative approaches to handling such situations.

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