Protesters gathered Sunday afternoon at the Nassau County Police Department 3rd Precinct’s headquarters in Williston Park to call for justice for Matthew Felix, 19, who was killed by Nassau County police officers in February 2020.
The rally, organized by the Long Island Party for Socialism and Liberation, called for Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder to be removed, as well as all officers involved in the shooting.
According to an Instagram video from the page “longislandactivists,” a woman holding a megaphone said, “We’re out here today to demand justice for Matthew Felix, a young man who was not even 20 years old.” She continued, “Who was murdered by the Nassau County police, by police officers right here in this precinct. We’re out here so they can hear our voices, so they know the community is watching and isn’t going to go in silence.”
The shooting occurred on Feb. 25, 2020, around 5 p.m. in the Cambria Heights neighborhood of Queens. Nassau County police officers followed Felix, a carjacking suspect, from Garden City Park to Queens.
Nassau police said they were responding to a call about a stolen vehicle after Felix, who asked to test drive a car that had been listed for sale online, pulled a firearm and removed the owner.
Police said they tracked Felix to his home in Queens and waited until the suspect left the house and got into another car. According to Ryder, officers attempted to make an arrest as Felix left his house, but he drove away, and officers followed him.
Unmarked police vehicles had surrounded the car in a busy shopping district when it sped forward and collided with a storefront. A witness said the officers discharged their weapons when the suspect appeared to begin driving toward the police.
New York Attorney General Letitia James released a 16-page report on an investigation into Felix’s death and said the imminent threat to officers and others nearby created legal justification for deadly force. The attorney general’s office has jurisdiction to assume authority in cases where police shoot a civilian or there is a question as to whether the civilian had a gun.
James said regarding the report, “After a complete review of the incident and the series of events that unfolded between NCPD officers and Mr. Felix, there was insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers’ use of force was unjustified, as is required by law to substantiate criminal charges.”
The Long Island unit of the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s Instagram page said the rally was in honor of Black August, a commemoration observed since the 1970s that highlights Black resistance to oppression.
Part of the unit’s demands made on social media include a fully unedited video of the events leading to Felix’s death, full names revealed for the remaining two out of four officers involved and for James to stop “hiding behind excuses” and prosecute those involved.