NEW ROCHELLE, NY — As we have previously documented, very little of the information put out on June 6th by the City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Police Department about Alec McKenna shooting and killing Kamal Flowers has proven to be true — in fact, quite the opposite with CCTV surveillance video and police records directly contradicting the narrative from NRPD, Police Commissioner Joseph Schaller and Mayor Noam Bramson.
Another example is Mayor Bramson’s affirmative statement: Alec McKenna did not know that Kamal Flowers had a criminal record.
We have asked the Mayor to explain how he would know what McKenna knew about Kamal Flowers or, for that matter, Isa Muhammad, the driver of the vehicle carrying Flowers. He has yet to answer.
Here is what we do know. During an invitation-only meeting of Black Clergy and public officials on June 6th, objections were raised by leaders in New Rochelle’s Black community to any public discussion of Kamal Flowers criminal history on the grounds that a criminal record should not be used to justify a police-involved shooting (the New Rochelle PBA has had no such qualms).
Bramson and others at the meeting appeared oblivious to the possibility that Flowers’ criminal record might explain why police officers followed the car he was riding in the night of June 5th and might explain why Flowers fled the traffic stop on foot which resulted in a foot pursuit by McKenna that ended with Flowers dead on the street.
Mayor Bramson agreed to the demand that City officials would not discuss Flowers’ criminal history at a subsequent press conference.
At the press conference Bramson was asked by this reporter about Flowers recent release from prison and his prior criminal record — unaware of the prior agreement. As agreed beforehand, Bramson sought to dismiss the question — a standard media inquiry in a case like this.
Bramson said it was “not relevant to the matters before us right now 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 there life and safety was at immediate risk and indeed the officer was in no position to know whether Mr. Flowers had a prior record so I would leave it to others to address that point.”
Who those others might be has never been made clear because no public official has ever publicly addressed the matter. At the press conference Police Commissioner Joseph Schaller was later asked the same question by this reporter and refused to respond.
Bramson was asked moments later by Jamal Gill of the Next Step Forward Initiative whether Flowers committed any crimes prior to being stopped by police that evening. A clearly confused and defensive Bramson mistakenly understood the question to be about Flowers’ criminal history and responded accordingly.
“His prior record would not be a matter of knowledge to the officers who stopped them,” said Bramson.
How would Bramson know what Alec McKenna knew or did not know about Kamal Flowers? And what about Isa Muhammad? Did McKenna know anything about the driver of the car carrying Flowers the night of June 5th? Bramson never addressed Muhammad.
Isa Muhammad says McKenna and the other officer that night knew exactly who they were following for several minutes – a distance of about 1.2 miles.
Muhammad described the events that preceded the traffic stop to Talk of the Sound during a wide-ranging four-hour interview last week.
He said he was going to a family birthday party in Connecticut. He picked up Flowers at Flower’s mother’s house at Heritage Homes. The pair then drove to the Bracey apartments and parked on the Fountain Place side of 345 Main Street. While at Bracey, Flowers received a phone call on Muhammad’s phone from the mother of his child asking him to come to see her in Mount Vernon which Flowers agreed to do. Not wanting to go alone to the party in Connecticut, Muhammad made arrangements to pick up a third person at the Parkside Place apartments near City Park before dropping off Flowers in Mount Vernon.
Muhammad says he was on his way from Bracey to City Park when he stopped for a traffic light at the intersection of North Avenue and Lockwood Avenue. At the traffic light a car pulled up next to his. He says Flowers said “oh snap, that’s McKenna” and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Muhammad says he look over and recognized two police officers in the unmarked police car but could only identify Alec McKenna by name.
Muhammad said he knew McKenna from a year prior when McKenna put him in handcuffs following a traffic stop for a suspended vehicle registration. Muhammad said he was detained by police and his car searched. He recalled he ￼asked McKenna why they had to search the car and, he says, McKenna said something about searching for “bombs” which Muhammad understood to be a derogatory reference to his last name being a Muslim name although he is not at all religious.
We have since filed a Freedom of Information request with New Rochelle Police Department to confirm the incident but have yet to receive the records.
Muhammad said he and Flowers both recognized McKenna and, Muhammad is certain, McKenna recognized both of them.
This goes to the issue of the Mayor’s claim that McKenna did not know Flowers had a criminal record. It is not just that McKenna recognized Flowers, the passenger in the vehicle, but also Muhammad, the driver of the vehicle. From Muhammad’s account, both were known to police to have a criminal record, both were known to McKenna, both recognized McKenna when the unmarked police vehicle pulled up alongside Muhammad and Flowers and McKenna recognized both Muhammad and Flowers.
Flowers’ prior record would be “a matter of knowledge” to the officers who conducted the traffic stop and is highly “relevant” to what took place June 5th.
According to Muhammad, McKenna was not only in a position to know whether Mr. Flowers had a prior record but he knew full well that Flowers’ had a prior record.
It is not a question of whether a prior record would justify McKenna shooting Flowers but an answer to the question of why McKenna and another officer followed Muhammad and Flowers for over a mile for supposed minor traffic infractions.
Those supposed traffic infractions were two “failure to signal” violations according to police. Muhammad says he was followed by police down North Avenue, down Hamilton Avenue which merges into East Boulevard.
Muhammad said when he reached the tennis courts on East Boulevard, the flashing lights on the unmarked police vehicle were activated— not on Pierce Street where CCTV surveillance video shows Muhammad pulling over his vehicle.
A driver going from North Avenue and Lockwood Avenue would make only one turn, a right onto Hamilton Avenue from North Avenue, prior to reaching the tennis courts so it was not possible for Muhammad to commit two “failure to signal” violations along that route.
Muhammad denies committing any traffic violations.
“I am a very good driver,” said Muhammad, adding that he has his CDL license.
A CDL is a commercial driver’s license which is required to operate large, heavy, or hazardous material vehicles. Muhammad says he worked for the Larchmont Sanitation Department for 7 years.
Bramson has so far failed to explain the basis for his claim that McKenna did not know Flowers had a criminal record. He completely ignored what police might know about Isa Muhammad.
Given that much of the June 6th press conference was devoted to Schaller and Bramson pushing a false narrative — trying to justify the traffic stop on a fabricated connection between supposed intelligence of bad actors coming to New Rochelle from out-of-state in the wake of the alleged murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, a mysterious car driving around Heritage Homes and McKenna and his partner stumbling across the mystery vehicle — it is difficult to credit the truth of anything said by Schaller or Bramson. Isa Muhammad’s account is infinitely more plausible, that McKenna and his partner saw Flowers and McKenna together in a car and decide to roust them in the hopes of making a felony arrest.
It also explains why neither police officer seemed overly concerned on June 5th about preventing the supposedly unknown out-of-state agitator from fleeing the scene: both police officers knew full well the driver was a former Larchmont sanitation worker who has lived in New Rochelle most of his life.