Brooklyn Mom of 2 Sons Killed by Police Sues

     BROOKLYN (CN) – A woman wants $40 million from New York City after her two young sons were fatally shot by police officers in two separate incidents.
     Denise Elliott-Owens lost her first son, Khiel Coppin, to an Oct. 12, 2007, confrontation with the New York City Police Department, according to the federal complaint filed Friday.
     News reports of the shooting say Coppin was 18 years old and inside the family’s Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment.
     Police shot Coppin’s brother, Na’im Owens, “in the vicinity of” the same address, according to the complaint. Reports say he was 22.
     In its report about Coppin’s death in 2007, the New York Daily News said that Elliott-Owens had called police to get help for her “mentally disturbed son.”
     The police said they fired because Coppin yelled, “I’ve got a gun,” according to the article.
     In reality, the teen had been holding a black hairbrush, the article states.
     The 17-page complaint Elliott-Owens filed Friday meanwhile alleges that her son was unarmed, with his hands up, when officers began shooting.
     Elliott-Owens says the incident set off a firestorm of criticism against the department for its use of excessive force against minorities.
     “Many citizens felt there was no rational excuse for shooting 20 times an unarmed man with his hands up in the air and then handcuffing him on the ground after he was seriously injured,” the complaint states.
     “The public outcry” over Coppin’s death led police to retaliate against Elliott-Owen’s other son, Na’im, according to the complaint
     On Aug. 31, 2014, after seven years of police harassment, officers shot at Na’im 18 times, hitting him once in the torso, near the same apartment where his brother was killed.
     Although Na’im survived the shooting, he died in the hospital about a week later, on Sept. 6. Coroners listed the man’s death a homicide, according to the complaint.
     Elliott-Owens says officers then waged a campaign to defame her son by falsely branding him an ex-con who had a gun and fired at officers.
     Though police blamed Na’im for shooting police officer John Hirschberger at least once, Elliott-Owens says the officer was actually hit by “friendly fire.”
     While receiving treatment at the hospital for his gunshot wound, Na’im was arrested and charged with several felonies, but all charges against him were dismissed when he died, according to the complaint.
     Elliott-Owens says officers “intentionally interfered with his physical recovery from his wounds” in retaliation for the media attention the death of his brother caused, and to cover up their use of force.
     Represented by Flushing attorney Andrew Plasse, she seeks $40 million for constitutional violations.
     The NYPD has not returned a request for comment.

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