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Protesters demand answers in police-involved shooting case

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Nearly a dozen activists drove from the Chase Bank on Linden Boulevard in Elmont to the intersection of 217 Street and Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights, Queens on Sunday, spreading awareness of the police-involved shooting of Matthew Felix along the way.

“It’s been six months, and a lot of people don’t know about Matthew’s case,” said Victor Dempsey, founder of Families on the Front Lines, which organized Sunday’s protest, along with the Long Island Peaceful Protest group, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Felix’s family.

According to the Nassau County Police Department, Felix, 19, had met with a man in Garden City Park who was selling his vehicle on Feb. 25, when he pulled out a gun, and aimed it at the seller’s head. He then fled in the stolen vehicle, officers allege, with detectives from the Bureau of Special Operations following him to his home in Cambria Heights, crossing jurisdiction lines. They then waited for Felix outside of his house, and when Felix left in his own vehicle, police said, they tried to pull him over —  but that’s when shots rang out, and Felix was fatally injured.

“He did not deserve to die like this,” Felix’s sister, Samantha, said at the rally before the caravan drove to the scene of his death. “He had a family that cared about him.”

She is now demanding answers from the Nassau County Police Department and the State Attorney General’s office — which are conducting investigations into the police-involved shooting —  about how many officers were involved in the fatal shooting, why they crossed jurisdiction  lines, and whether the officers were ever penalized for their actions.

“This family still doesn’t know,” Dempsey said, adding that officials are “hiding behind this pandemic.” Felix’s family has only been able to meet with representatives from the Attorney General’s office, Rachel Hu, organizer of the Party for Socialism and Liberation on Long Island, explained, and have not yet been able to meet with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran or Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

They only found out about Matthew’s death from a television news report, she noted, and were brought into the police station for questioning.

Representatives from the Nassau County Police Department and the State Attorney General’s office said they are still investigating the incident.

“They are the judge, the jury and the executioners,” said Terrel Tuosto, founder of the Long Island Peaceful Protests group. “Too many Black men are being murdered.”

He and other speakers at the rally said that Felix’s death one week before his 20th birthday is just part of a pattern of racism and police brutality in Nassau County, citing an incident in which two Roosevelt Middle School teachers displayed a photo of two nooses under the term “Back to School Necklaces,” and the words “ha” and “#yes,” and another in which police beat a Black teenager in January for suspected gun violence.

Still, Stephen Figurasmith, of Valley Stream, said Nassau County police have largely avoided scrutiny, and Arthur L. Mackey, Jr,. pastor of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Roosevelt said the police department has “to do the right thing by Matthew Felix” and arrest the officers involved in the shooting “in Jesus’ name.”