We think so.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Kamal Flowers, who died Friday, had a lengthy criminal record including numerous arrests in Westchester County and at least one, possibly more, in Niagara County.
Talk of the Sound has additional records requests pending with Niagara Falls PD, the Westchester County DA, and Mount Vernon PD. We will update this article as those records are made available.
Publicly acknowledging Flower’s criminal history is viewed by some as inappropriate, even irrelevant. We leave that to others to discuss, our role is to gather news and information and publish it, then let the chips fall where they may.
We find the complicity of local media outlets in suppressing such information to be a despicable and cowardly form of journalistic malpractice. At the only press conference held since the shooting death of Kamal Flowers, on Saturday, journalists flanked by television cameras lined the back row of the New Rochelle City Council Chambers. Not a single one of them asked a question. Nothing. Silence.
We asked four questions — about dash cam video, body cam video, the lengthy criminal history of Kamal Flowers and his recent release from prison — and we had more: was a gun recovered, was there a past history between Flowers and the officers involved, would there be a release of disciplinary records of the officers, and so on.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson dismissed our questions on Kamal Flowers arrest record and recent release from state prison, angering the entire New Rochelle Police Department.
“There is no prior record that would justify an event of this kind. The only thing that could explain it would be an officer’s true perception that their life and safety was in immediate risk,” Bramson said. “And, indeed, the officer was in no position to know whether Mr. Flowers had a prior record.”
Flowers was killed Friday night following a traffic stop in New Rochelle. A passenger, he exited the vehicle and fled on foot. He was pursued by Police Officer Alec McKenna in a chase which ended, police say, after Flowers displayed a weapon, attempted to shoot the pursuing officer and McKenna fired six shots, one striking Flowers in the heart, fatally wounding him.
PBA President Christopher Greco took issue with the Mayor’s remarks the next day.
“Mr. Flower’s criminal background IS relevant to the gravity of the threat he posed when he pointed his illegal handgun at our brother: having been released from state prison in March following his conviction for a violent gunpoint robbery, he was a felon in possession of an illegal weapon in contravention of his parole conditions as well as state and federal law. If apprehended, he was facing a lengthy prison sentence.” wrote PBA President Christopher Greco.
“Our brother officer was indeed unaware of this fact when he attempted to apprehend Mr. Flowers: Mr. Flowers was not. His extensive criminal history explains why he was apparently willing to pay any price to escape apprehension, including the life of a police officer.”
Many in New Rochelle have taken sides on the issue of disclosure of Kamal Flowers’s past criminal history, either strongly supporting the PBA response to the Mayor or denouncing any discussion of Flowers’ record as an attempt to justify the police shooting by using his past to discredit and dehumanize him. This point was made repeatedly by family and friends at a press conference outside City Hall on Wednesday where the NAACP and community leaders and activists called on the Governor to appoint the New York State Attorney General to investigation the police shooting that resulted in the death of Kamal Flowers.
Suffice to say Flowers was known to law enforcement with a dozen arrests on criminal charges ranging from robbery and assault to drugs and weapons, including 4 felony charges. How that bears on what took place Friday night is for readers to decide but we have an obligation to report this information.
As referenced by Greco, Kamal Flowers was arrested on March 24, 2017 after he and another person stole a car at gunpoint in Mount Vernon. Flowers pleaded guilty to Robbery 2 with a firearm. He was sentenced on January 11, 2018 ￼to 3 years and 6 months in prison and booked into State prison on January 23, 2018. He was paroled on March 12, 2020 after serving 26 months of his 42 month sentence, according to records from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Prior to that, Kamal Flowers, then 18, was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department on May 21, 2014 and charged with Criminal Sale Controlled Substance, a D Felony, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, a Violation, and Criminal Use Drug Paraphernalia 2nd, an A Misdemeanor.
On October 24, 2014, Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Grand Larceny 4th, Property from Person, an E Felony, and Menacing/Weapon, 2nd, an A Misdemeanor.
On November 12, 2015, Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Robbery 1st, a B Felony.
On August 12, 2015, Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Robbery 3rd, a D Felony.
On December 10, 2015, the day after his 20th birthday, Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Assault 3rd, an A Misdemeanor.
On May 5, 2016, Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police on a charge of Petite Larceny, an A misdemeanor, and Criminal Mischief 4, an A Misdemeanor. The latter charge was reduced to a violation. He was sentenced to 6 months in the Westchester County jail.
Soon after his release from jail, Flowers was arrested on December 22, 2016 in Niagara Falls, New York after a hit-and-run crash at a funeral home. He was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, leaving the scene of an accident and third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle.
On February 14, 2017 Flowers was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Firearm/Knife.
The following month Flowers was arrested for the car theft at gunpoint that resulted in his incarceration in state prison and his parole 3 months ago.
Many questions remain:
- Was Kamal Flowers the person who had a firearm during the Mount Vernon car robbery or was it the person with him or both?
- Are there any additional records out there?
- Is it true that there was a warrant out for Flowers’s arrest at the time he was killed?
- Is it the case that, as many have said, that Flowers suffered from mental illness? How would that effect his mindset on Friday? Was the New Rochelle Police Department aware of any illness?
- Why do police records contradict the Mayor and Police Commissioner on the topic of “tinted windows”?
- Is the audio from Friday night provided by the New Rochelle Police Department all of the available audio from that night?
- What exactly did the caller from Heritage Homes tell police when they called? What would make a car driving around at six in the evening suspicious. If they will not release the audio will they release a transcript of the call?
- Is there CCTV video from Heritage Homes and traffic camera video in the area and any other video that show the Black Dodge Charger on the night of June 3 or June 5. Muhammad Sellers says he drove past responding patrol cars as they responded to Heritage Homes on June 3, is their dash cam video from the responding police vehicles?
- The CCTV video does not depict the use of a taser or switching from taser to gun.
- The CCTV does not depict a “tussle” between Kamal Flowers and PO Alec McKenna.
- The CCTV video from 29 Portman Road Sharot Street Side Camera (1:30 mark) seems to depict PO Alec McKenna shooting Kamal multiple times while Kamal Flowers is on the ground
- There is a glitch in the CCTV video from 44 Potter Road/Driveway Sharot Street)seems to show a glitch (3:42 mark) where it seems like PO Alec McKenna and Kamal Flowers disappear off the screen.
- What is the job status of the two police officers involved in the incident?
- What is the name of the officer in the car with PO Alec McKenna?
Talk of the Sound will continue to ask these and other questions, continue to seek audio, video and police records, and continue to publish all of the news and information we gather without fear or favor — let the chips fall.
UPDATE: We filed an expanded Freedom of Information Request with NRPD on June 12, 2020.
UPDATE: Talk of the Sound has filed a Freedom of Information Request for all disciplinary records for police officer Alec McKenna.