Westchester DA Fails to Obtain Indictment in Officer-Involved Shooting Death in New Rochelle

Westchester DA Fails to Obtain Indictment in Officer-Involved Shooting Death in New Rochelle

WHITE PLAINS, NY — A Westchester County Grand Jury voted not to indict New Rochelle Police Officer Alec McKenna in the shooting of Kamal Flowers on June 5, 2020.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino made the announcement at an “invited media” only press conference. Robert Cox, who has done more reporting on the McKenna case was barred from the press conference.

Scarpino issued a statement:

The grand jury’s determination, known as a “no true bill,” ended the grand jury investigation and it means that no criminal charges will be brought against the police officer. Under New York State Law, grand jury proceedings are confidential and cannot be made public without a court order.

In the interest of transparency, the District Attorney’s Office petitioned the Court to allow us to reveal information related to our presentation to the grand jury, including the charges that were presented. Judge David Zuckerman ordered the following statement can be released to the public:

Statement from Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr.

A Westchester Grand Jury has completed its investigation into the tragic shooting death of Kamal Flowers in the City of New Rochelle on June 5, 2020, and the involvement of Police Officer Alec McKenna. The shooting took place at approximately 10:54 p.m. on Sharot Street. The investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Flowers’ death began immediately following the incident.

The investigation was conducted by four law enforcement agencies: The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, The New York State Police, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the New Rochelle Police Department.

On June 06, 2020, the day following the shooting, the Attorney General’s Office declined to take the investigation since the deceased was armed at the time of the incident. As such, the Attorney General determined the matter fell outside the jurisdiction of her office under Executive Order 147.

A Westchester County Grand Jury began hearing testimony Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, and concluded on the sixth day, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The grand jury conducted a thorough and exhaustive review of the evidence.

“The death of Kamal Flowers was tragic. His family and friends have lost a loved one and are devastated by this loss. I am deeply saddened by his death because his life mattered. Any use of deadly force is difficult to accept. We want the Flowers family and the people of New Rochelle to know, this investigation took top priority for this office, and, even as we have been challenged by the Coronavirus — we did everything to ensure the investigation’s veracity.”

Pursuant to an order of the Westchester County Court that empaneled the grand jury sitting in this manner, the following is the only information the court is permitting to be disclosed by law:

The police officer involved in the incident testified before the grand jury, waiving the immunity which he otherwise would have received.

In addition, the grand jury heard from 35 people, among them 12 New Rochelle Police Department employees, 11 civilians, and four witnesses from other public agencies including New York State Police, Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the Empress Ambulance company.

Eight expert witnesses testified from the following agencies: Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research, the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office, Westchester County Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, and from Axon Enterprise, Inc. (the Taser manufacturer).

The grand jury was presented with the defaced and operable 9mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun with 10 9mm rounds of ammunition found at the scene and in Mr. Flowers’ pocket.

A total of 223 exhibits were admitted into evidence before the grand jury, including:
  • 138 photographs
  • 6 maps
  • 3 documents
  • 33 video files – 25 of which came from surveillance cameras during and around the time of the incident
  • 4 audio recordings including radio calls and a 911 call
  • 16 individual physical exhibits (including the 9mm Ruger)Forensic evidence included expert testimony on the following: DNA, fingerprints, drug analysis, forensic image and video analysis, ballistics, gunshot residue, trace evidence, Taser operation and Taser analysis.

    Expert DNA analysis revealed the DNA found on the trigger of the 9mm Ruger handgun matched Mr. Flowers’ DNA.

    The grand jury heard all the evidence on the use of deadly force during this police encounter. The grand jury was provided with the charge of intentional murder. As required by law, the grand jury was instructed on the defense of justification under Article 35 of the Penal Law as to the use of force and deadly physical force by the police.

    After deliberating on the evidence presented in this matter, the grand jury found no reasonable cause to vote an indictment.

    “I would like to thank the citizens of this county who comprised the grand jury for their service and the effort they devoted to this investigation,” said Scarpino. “Their careful consideration of evidence presented and their subsequent deliberation is commendable.”


UPDATE 12:40 PM: Wednesday, November 4, 2020, at 2:30 PM at the Westchester County Court House, 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, White Plains, NY. Attorney for the Flowers Family Richard St. Paul, Esq., Flowers Family and Members of the Community react to the Westchester County’s Grand Jury decision not to indict a New Rochelle Police Officer in the shooting death of Kamal Flowers. NAACP New Rochelle Branch President Minister Mark Mclean, Civil Rights leaders, and New Rochelle community members will participate. New Rochelle Community members will hold a press conference calling on the release of Transcripts from the Grand Jury Proceedings. “Community Outraged at lack of charges presented to the Grand Jury.”. On June 5, 2020, Mr. Flowers was shot and killed by Officer McKenna after an illegal stop of a vehicle that Mr. Flowers had been a passenger in. The New Rochelle Police Department claims that Mr. Flowers attempted to fire a handgun. However, recent videos and reports do not support that Mr. Flowers threatened the life of Officer McKenna.

UPDATE 12:15 PM: Wednesday, November 4, 2020, at 3:30 PM at the New Rochelle City Hall Rotunda in New Rochelle, NY. City of New Rochelle officials will deliver statements regarding the Grand Jury decision not to indict McKenna. Mayor Noam Bramson and City Manager Charles B. Strome are expected to speak.

UPDATE 1:15 PM: Henderson Clarke, brother of Kamal Flowers, issued a statement to Talk of the Sound which we will publish shortly but the headline of our interview is that Mr. Clarke said his Facebook profile was suspended this morning after he published a video reaction to today’s announcement that DA Scarpino failed to secure an indictment in the death of Kamal Flowers.

“The DA is corrupt, the whole system is corrupt, it’s all a set up just like this indictment,” said Henderson Clarke in response to the news that the Scarpino failed to get an indictment of Alex McKenna.

“The Mayor and the Police Commissioner gave a press conference to give false information to justify shooting and killing my brother,” he said. The video does not show my brother brandished a gun, pointed his gun. We sought second-degree murder or manslaughter. That cop killed my brother in cold blood and this is just fuel to a fire.”

Clarke was interviewed on BlackWeschester.com by AJ Woodson

Flowers Family press conference

At the Flowers Family press conference, attorney Richard St. Paul stated that it was just a matter of “when” the family would file a civil “wrongful death” civil lawsuit against the City of New Rochelle. St. Paul and Minister Mark McLean called on the City to fire NRPD Police Officer Alec McKenna.

“Today, neither truth nor justice was delivered to Kamal Flowers family,” said St. Paul. “There is no doubt there is more to come in this case.”

“We want the grand jury transcripts, we want to read what was said,” he added.

“We still don’t know why Isa Muhammad was pulled over what crime did Flowers commit that he deserved to be chased.”

“I am angry because this process was presided over by a lame-duck prosecutor”, said McLean. “Governor Cuomo does not believe what happened to Kamal Flowers was worth putting under the microscope of a trial.”

“Cuomo completely ignored all of the elected officials and community leaders in New Rochelle who asked that he appoint New York State Attorney General Tish James to this case.

“Justice will be served for my brother,” said family member Pauline Harris.

“We do want justice for Kamal. We miss him and we love him. We know he did not have to die on June 5 of 2020. There were other ways this could have been handled. We know a traffic infraction should not lead to the death of a passenger.” she added.

She said the District Attorney could have pursued a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter or reckless endangerment but instead went with charge they know was going to be beaten.

Angele Farrish, Chairperson of the African-American Advisory Committee to the City of New Rochelle, said she was saddened because “the decision to forego a trial will reduce the opportunity for many of our City’s residents to have closure.”

“It heightens distrust and brings to the surface doubts,” she added.

City Hall Press Conference

At the City Hall press conference, Mayor Noam Bramson, City Manager Charles B. Strome, and Councilperson Yadira Ramos-Herbert read prepared statements and afterward took several questions. Police Commissioner Joe Schaller also responded to questions.

Following up on Strome’s statement that there would now be an internal investigation into the shooting, Strome said the public would be notified when the investigation was complete and the outcome of the investigation.

Following up on Bramson’s statement that at the press conference on June 6, “we shared whatever information was available to us”, Bramson”, he and Schaller were asked whether they would care to correct the record on their many false statements on June 6th, Schaller said there were mistakes but declined to say what they were. Bramson refused to address that question and quickly ended the press conference.

City Statements Regarding the November 4 Grand Jury Decision To not Indict New Rochelle Police Officer

Mayor Noam Bramson:

“On June 6, we gathered here to deliver the sobering news of an officer-involved shooting. At that time, we shared whatever information was available to us, expressed our heartfelt grief, and gave our support to a thorough review.

Earlier today, the Grand Jury empaneled to examine this case concluded its work by declining to issue an indictment, thereby ending the criminal portion of the review process. In so doing, the Grand Jury implicitly determined that the use of force in this incident fell within legal standards. New Rochelle’s leadership respects our system of law and the vital role of the Grand Jury within it, and we affirm our confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and commitment to service of the NRPD.

But we fully acknowledge the sharp limitations of this decision: it will not erase the tragedy of a young man losing his life; it will not relieve the anguish of the Flowers family or their friends; it will not lift and may even intensify the mistrust felt by many toward the criminal justice system; it will not ease the daily challenges confronting our city, our neighbors, and our Police Department; it will not alter the dangerous prevalence of guns in our society, which prey especially on marginalized communities; and it will not undo the profound effect of this tragedy on the whole of New Rochelle.

Moreover, the events of June 5 did not occur in a vacuum, but rather in the context of a nationwide conversation about bias and structural racism across a spectrum of American institutions.

So, while one phase of this process has concluded, the vital work of healing our community goes on, and now requires even greater focus and intensity. The challenge and the moral imperative for all of us is to be honest about our disparate reactions to the news of the day, without allowing these different perspectives to tear us apart. We must use this moment to find a better way forward together.

In this spirit, we are grateful for the hard work and service of New Rochelle’s Policing Review Committee, under the leadership of Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert with support and cooperation from the NRPD, and we look forward to exploring its recommendations. We are grateful, too, for the robust input, dialogue, guidance, and constructive criticism of civic and faith leaders throughout New Rochelle, especially among communities of color. And we are grateful for the many partners who join us in determination to magnify positive opportunities for young people to succeed and to build a truly just and equitable city, with strong bonds of trust between the Police and the people they serve.

Affirmation, sorrow, relief, anger – all of these feelings are legitimate and reflect the diversity of which New Rochelle is so proud. It is not our purpose today to insist that anyone accept a narrative for June 5 that conflicts with their lived experience and sincere belief. Instead, let us strive to stand in each other’s shoes with respect and understanding. Let us take this opportunity to enlarge the process of acknowledging history, discovering truth, and achieving reconciliation. And then let us each do our part to advance the cause of justice, safety, and peace for all of our neighbors.”

City Manager Charles B. Strome, III

On behalf of the City Administration and the New Rochelle Police Department, I would like to offer this brief statement in response to the Grand Jury decision.

There is understandable pain as a result of this incident in our community and it is no doubt a tragedy for the entire City. I want to reaffirm both the City Administration’s and the Police Department’s desire and obligation to work together, alongside our elected officials, the clergy, and community members to take the necessary steps to enhance the relationship between the community and our police officers and make our community even stronger.

Concurrently, this decision reaffirms my confidence in our Police Department. I also want to reemphasize the commitment of the men and women of our Police department and assure the residents of our City that they will continue to uphold their oath of office with integrity and will continue to serve our community.

I will conclude by saying the grand jury process is now complete and an internal investigation of this incident will begin. While the grand jury process has determined that there was no criminal action, in this case, we will be reviewing the incident to ensure that the Department’s rules, regulations, and procedures were followed. Because of that impending investigation, and because the management of the City Administration and the Police Department falls within my purview as City Manager, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the grand jury decision or the impending internal investigation.”

Councilmember Yadira Ramos-Herbert

“In June 2020, the City of New Rochelle began a comprehensive review of NRPD’s policing practices related to the use of force, training, data, transparency, community engagement, and equipment. This review required collaborative engagement by community members, City staff, and NRPD, each with their own backgrounds and experience but all united by a deep love and belief that we are indeed #NewRoStrong.

Part of the process to reach the initial recommendations required that the committee engages in challenging conversations. An initial set of recommendations were recently submitted to the City Manager as part of the 2021 budgetary process and while implementation of the recommendations will likely lead to further challenging conversations about the best way to implement the recommendations, I am also confident our deep neighborly love and commitment to our beautiful City will allow us to rise above our differences and emerge united. We will be able to prove once again we are #NewRoStrong and able to work together to ensure equity and justice for all of our neighbors.”

New Rochelle PBA President Chris Greco Statement

After a thorough presentation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, a Grand Jury determined that Police Officer Alec McKenna was justified and acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Kamal Flowers.

After a traffic stop, Mr. Flowers, a convicted felon on parole, fled the scene in an attempt to evade apprehension. Officer McKenna pursued Mr. Flowers, who was in possession of an illegal firearm. After Mr. Flowers ignored several lawful orders to stop and drop his weapon, Officer McKenna, in an attempt to subdue and apprehend Mr. Flowers, discharged his taser. Mr. Flowers escalated the situation by pointing and attempting to fire his illegal firearm at Officer McKenna. Officer McKenna was left with no choice but to discharge his service weapon to protect his own life.

Any comparison between this incident and other controversial police shootings is without merit and baseless. New Rochelle police officers are some of the best trained and well-disciplined officers in Westchester County, and perhaps the country.

The New Rochelle PBA is grateful for the service of the Grand Jury and for the diligence of the New York State Police and New Rochelle Police Department throughout this investigation. The New Rochelle PBA also thanks the many New Rochelle appointed officials who have consistently reached out to check on the welfare of Officer McKenna and looks forward to moving past this tragedy.

LoHud.com: Lawyer gives New Rochelle police officer Alec McKenna's account of Kamal Flowers shooting

The Journal News today published a muddled, unsupported, and self-serving account by Jonathon Bandler attributed to Andrew Quinn, a lawyer representing Alec McKenna. The article is filled with debunked claims, portrays opinions as statements of fact, and consists mostly of a fanciful account attributed to McKenna by his lawyer (who was not present in the Grand Jury room). Most of what Quinn-McKenna claim is contradicted by police records and CCTV video. There is no way to know whether any of this is true or even plausible because the Grand Jury proceedings have not been made public and the defense has had no opportunity to cross-examine witnesses so there are no established facts in the case.

Here is a list of the statements drawn from the article, many of which Bandler treats as true without foundation.

- Quinn claims McKenna screamed "Don't do it! Don't do it" as Kamal Flowers pointed a gun at him.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he had no choice but to shoot Flowers when he kept the gun trained on him.

- Quinn claims McKenna said that from the moment Flowers ran from the front passenger seat, McKenna observed him holding his waistband with his left hand.

- Quinn claims McKenna gave chase.

- Quinn claims McKenna was holding his police radio in his hand.

- Quinn claims McKenna took out his stun gun in one hand and held the his police radio in his other hand.

- *Bandler* claims video showed Flowers still holding his waistband two blocks as he stumbled to the sidewalk on Sharot.

Quinn claims McKenna said the entire confrontation at the end of the chase took about 10 seconds which means all of the following occurred in 10 seconds:

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers ran into the street and tried to sidestep McKenna.

- Quinn claims McKenna said a Ruger fell to the ground.

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers picked up the Ruger.

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers held the Ruger to his waist

- Quinn claims McKenna radioed, "He's got a gun.”

- Quinn claims McKenna fired his Taser twice at Flowers

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers fell to the ground.

- Quinn claims McKenna approached Flowers.

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers pointed the Ruger and pulled the trigger,

- Quinn claims McKenna said the gun did not fire.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he dropped his radio and his stun gun.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he started to back away from Flowers but fell to the ground

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers continued pointing the gun at him.

- Quinn claims McKenna said the gun was shaking.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he (McKenna) believed he was about to fire again.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he picked up his radio.

- Quinn claims McKenna said, "Shots fired”.

- Quinn claims McKenna kept his gun trained on Flowers.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he (McKenna) got to his knees.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he pulled out his gun.

- Quinn claims McKenna said he yelled at Flowers, “Don't do it! Don't do it!”

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers slapped the bottom of the gun.

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers "slid the rack”.

- Quinn claims McKenna said Flowers pointed the gun at him (McKenna).

- Quinn claims McKenna said he (McKenna) fired six shots.

- Quinn claims McKenna said two of those shots struck Flowers.

Quinn claims McKenna said it took another 40 seconds before McKenna's partner arrived on the scene.

Quinn claims McKenna said he chased a passenger following a traffic stop because there was probable cause.

Quinn claims there was probable cause to pull over the vehicle based on several factors but Bandler only lists one such claim.

Quinn claims McKenna and his partner knew the Dodge Charger had been reported two nights earlier as driving around Heritage Homes in a suspicious manner.

Quinn claims said when he and the other officer spotted the car on June 5, in that same area of the city, they followed it to see where it was going and pulled it over after several traffic violations.

Quinn claims McKenna said he thought Flowers might have drugs or a weapon so he gave chase.

McKenna is the only living eyewitness to the shooting

Kamal Flowers gives his account of New Rochelle police officer Alec McKenna shooting him


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