NEW ROCHELLE, NY — On Saturday afternoon, Mayor Noam Bramson told reporters that the reason Kamal Flowers found himself in a vehicle stopped by police the night before was because of a report of a suspicious vehicle on Wednesday evening, described as Dodge Charger with tinted windows and Virginia plates UPF1991.
At the same weekend press conference, Police Commissioner Joe Schaller described how Flowers exited the vehicle on Pierce Street, ran across Potter Avenue and into a dead on Sharrot Street by the Westchester Humane Society where he was shot and killed by a New Rochelle Police Officer, since identified as Alec McKenna.
Schaller also described the suspicious vehicle as having tinted windows.
Videos released by the New Rochelle Police Department show Flowers running from the vehicle, ending in a fatal confrontation on a dead end street.
The Mayor’s reference to tinted windows occurs just after the 5:40 mark in our video of the press conference.
The Police Commissioner’s reference to tinted windows occurs just after the 18:30 mark in our video of the press conference.
Police records obtained by Talk of the Sound under a Freedom of Information request confirm that the New Rochelle Police Department did respond to a complaint about a suspicious vehicle shortly before 6 pm on Wednesday June 3rd but there is no mention of tinted windows in the Dispatch Call or the Incident Report.
The U.S. Department of Transportation only allows manufacturers to tint windows on SUVs and trucks. Rental car companies get their cars direct from manufacturers. So, unless a customer rents a car and tints the windows themself, rental cars companies typically do not rent cars with tinted windows.
The vehicle was a rental car and, according to the driver, did not have tinted windows. CCTV video provided by the New Rochelle Police Department appears to back that up. When an unmarked police car pulls up behind the car driven by Muhammad Sellers and shines its headlights into the Dodge Charger both Sellers and Kamal Flowers are visible inside the car.
Talk of the Sound has obtained two sets of records from the New Rochelle Police Department
In the audio of the Dispatch Call, officers are advised of a report of a Black Dodge Charger driving in and out of the Heritage Homes complex. The number of people in the car is described as unknown. There is no mention of tinted windows.
A responding officer reports seeing a Black Dodge Durango but no Dodge Charger.
Meanwhile, according to a knowledgeable source, the driver of the vehicle, now known to be Muhammad Sellers, was leaving Heritage Homes, driving past officers responding to the call. Kamal Flowers was a passenger in the vehicle, a car rented by Sellers, according to the same source.
Richard St. Paul, the attorney for the Flowers family, spoke with Talk of the Sound this afternoon following an NAACP press conference where St. Paul and others called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint New York State Attorney General Tish James as a Special Prosecutor to investigate the police shooting, St. Paul said he spoke to New Rochelle Police Detective Greg Herring who said Sellers was not wanted by the police.
St. Paul said Sellers was willing to come forward to tell his story but only to the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
According to the incident report on the Heritage Homes call on Wednesday, the call was logged as received at 17:48 (5:48 pm). The first officer arrived on scene at 17:55, a reaction time of six minutes and 27 seconds. At 18:01 the vehicle ID is entered, Virginia plates UPF1991. At 18:02 the last office left for a total time on scene of 7 minutes and 19 seconds.
The police on scene were unable to locate a Black Dodge Charger. The report does not state how police came to know the tag number of the vehicle.
Talk of the Sound has multiple Freedom of Information requests pending with various agencies including the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Mount Vernon Police Department and Niagara Falls Police Department. We have requested a copy of any CCTV video from Heritage Homes which captured images of the Dodge Charger and other records from the New Rochelle Police Department.
Our request for a recording of the call from a Heritage Homes resident to police, the basis for all subsequent events in this matter, was denied with the following explanation:
As for your request regarding telephone calls received in relation to the June 3rd call for service. Your FOIL request has been denied as per New York County Law Section 308-4. Records, in whatever form they may be kept, of calls made to a municipality’s E911 system shall not be made available to or obtained by any entity or person, other than that municipality’s public safety agency, another government agency or body, or a private entity or a person providing medical, ambulance or other emergency services, and shall not be utilized for any commercial purpose other than the provision of emergency services.
We intend to request a transcript of the call.
UPDATE 11:50 AM: We have asked Mayor Noam Bramson and Police Commissioner Joe Schaller to provide the basis for their statement on “tinted windows”. Will post any replies here.