It's been over a day since news first broke that a man had been fatally shot outside his mother's Clinton Hill home by an undercover cop and there are still many more questions than answers. We know that 49-year-old Shem Walker stepped outside his mother's brownstone on Lafayette Avenue for a cigarette and discovered a plain clothes cop sitting on her steps. A witness says that he heard Walker shout, "Get out of here or I'll move you myself!" and that the two then tumbled down the steps. Walker is said to have had a reputation of shooing people off the family's steps with success.
NYPD says that Walker attacked the officer, who required two stitches in his head from the altercation. They claim that when Walker grabbed the officer's drawn weapon, the cop fired two shots, one of which hit Walker in the chest. He would later die at Brooklyn Hospital.
Walker's family, who was just inside the house, deny hearing any scuffle. An employee at the 99-cent store next to the stoop says that he did not see a fight nor ever hear the word "Police!' uttered. The family concurs on the last point and says that they did not even learn that the man who killed Walker was a cop until reading about in the papers the following day. His sister told the Post, "No one from the NYPD has come to tell us he was shot by a cop. Why is it such a secret? We had to read the paper to find out who his killer was."
The undercover officer was a seven-year NYPD veteran, the last two of those as an undercover, who was also black and had never been involved in a shooting before. He has been reassigned to desk duty. The officer was serving as a shadow for a buy-and-bust undercover drug deal going on at a nearby bodega. The NYPD can not speak to him about the incident until he has been able to contact an attorney and the DA has completed an investigation.
Walker's family was devastated and angry as they spoke to the media yesterday. His mother described how the retired Army veteran came up from Pennsylvania to visit her ever weekend and took her to church. She said he was "so lovable he sleeps with me in the bed." Walker was planning to move up to Brooklyn and was still on parole for a prior drug conviction in Pennsylvania.
City Councilwoman Letitia James was on the scene yesterday. She said that she had pushed for police to address a drug problem in the neighborhood, but emphasized that the Walker family had no involvement in the investigation. James is calling for an independent investigation into the shooting and said, "The fact that a undercover officer did not leave his stoop, his property, and the fact that there was an altercation, at a time when the family was sitting by the window and didn’t hear anyone shout ‘Police!,’ raises some serious questions in my mind and in the mind of my constituents."