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article imageNew York cops kill bystander after undercover gun buy goes bad

By Megan Hamilton     Aug 31, 2015 in Crime
Mount Vernon - A bystander was shot and killed by a New York police officer after an undercover gun buy went wrong in the New York City suburb of Mount Vernon, police said on Saturday.
The bystander was shot while the officer was chasing a fleeing suspect.
The undercover gun purchase went tragically wrong when bystander Felix Kumi, 61, was hit by gunfire and died at a local hospital, Reuters reports.
Police say that Jeffrey Aristy, 28, of the Bronx, contacted an officer Friday, allegedly saying he had guns for sale. When the undercover officer met him, Aristy climbed into the officer's unmarked car and told him to drive to the residential area in Mount Vernon, The Morning Call reports. Aristy was the target of the undercover probe, police said.
The gun broker told the officer that he wanted to go to Mount Vernon to meet up with Samuel Ruiz, whom he said was his cousin, police said, according to The New York Daily News.
The officer parked the car on a neighborhood street and met briefly with Ruiz, who allegedly helped arrange gun sales between Aristy and the undercover cop.
Within seconds, another suspect, Alvin Smothers, 37, jumped into the back seat and reportedly pointed what appeared to be a pistol at the back of the officer's head, demanding the money. The officer handed over the $2,400 and pulled out his own gun. When that happened, Smothers tried to flee. The officer gave chase and when Smothers allegedly pointed the gun at him again, the officer opened fire, the Daily News reports. Smothers was hit three times. It's reported that 11 to 21 shots were fired at the fleeing suspect.
Kumi, an innocent bystander who was caught in the middle was shot twice by police bullets. He died at Jacobi Medical Center just before 1:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Kumi's daughter told the Daily News that the family is awaiting more information on how her father wound up shot.
"We don't know much about the situation so we don't want to speculate," said Rachel Kumi.
"It's just a wake up call for everybody to love your family - because you never know when they are not going to be here."
A spiritual man, Kumi "touched everyone he met," his devastated family members said.
A devout Jehovah's Witness, Kumi was walking to a repair shop to pick up his car when he was shot on Friday afternoon, the Daily News reports.
"My father died a faithful man," Rachel Kumi, 25, said through tears in front of her father's home. "It's a travesty that this happened. He loved us and he touched everyone he met."
"Mr. Kumi was blameless, and this tragedy has tested and tried his family," NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement released on Saturday. "I pray that they may find comfort in their hope of resurrection and awakening."
Kumi was a "very kind, very devoted dad," neighbor Sharon Johnson, 53, told Newsday.
"He always had a smile for you, always had a kind word," she said. "It's so messed up that he was walking past there when the shooting started."
Kumi drove a bus for the Mount Vernon school district for the past decade, Rachel Kumi said, per Newsday.
Police recovered the pistol, which turned out to be fake, along with the stolen money, the Daily News reports.
Smothers remained in critical condition at Jacobi Medical Center as of Saturday.
The shooting is being investigated by the Westchester district attorney. The state Attorney General's office, which heads the investigations of police-involved killings, hadn't decided (as of Saturday) if it will take the case.
As part of standard procedure, the shooting is also being reviewed by the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, the Daily News reports.
Aristy, his wife, Ivett Cruz, 29, and Ruiz were arraigned early Sunday morning. Aristy has been charged with numerous gun and drug related offenses, while Cruz, who allegedly acted as a go-between on a drug sale involving the undercover officer faces drug charges, the Daily News reports.
Prosecutors allege that Ruiz helped orchestrate gun sales between Aristy and the officer. Aristy and Ruiz were held without bail, while Cruz was held on $10,000 bail.
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