On Sunday, September 18, 2016, 24 year-old Kadeem Trotter was fatally shot. Immediately, multiple conflicting reports surfaced on local television news and across the internet, claims of a shooting involving an off-duty cop and an armed man in a thwarted robbery attempt outside a Dunkin’ Donuts in Jamaica, Queens. Kadeem’s family wasn’t officially notified until days after published reports were already permeating the Internet and newswire.
From the very beginning, Kadeem’s family had been misinformed by the authorities. “Two detectives showed up at my house. I was told my son had walked himself into the hospital with chest pains and he ‘just didn’t make it,’” says Kadeem’s mother, Lundie Chambers. “It was only because my neighbor had brought me a newspaper and I recognized his bicycle [in the article photo] that I was able to make the connection.”
The inconsistencies continued from there, claims that Kadeem was armed with a BB gun, on that evening outside Dunkin’ Donuts, and was shot in the chest while allegedly, attempting to rob Ian Caine of his holstered handgun. 49 year-old Ian Caine, the shooter, was moonlighting as a uniformed security guard for Allied Security. Caine was not wearing his official court officer’s uniform at the time of the shooting. Reports immediately released to news media, however, categorically identify Caine as a Staten Island Court Officer, implying protections afforded to uniformed peace officers effecting an arrest.
The prematurely released reports also taint public perception of Kadeem and paint him as guilty without having stood trial. These reports also seal public perception of Caine as a would-be-hero, when Caine was neither wearing his official court officer’s uniform, nor working in his capacity of Court Officer at the time of the shooting. There are no corroborating witnesses, only the highly-publicized account of a lone shooter without evidence to substantiate his claims. The only video mentioned has been footage of Kadeem merely entering and exiting the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant. Though failing to prove Caine’s account of the events, this footage is referenced by police as Kadeem “casing the place.” No other video surveillance video is mentioned.
A day after the shooting, however, more details surface that contradict Ian Caine’s account of the incident. The Daily News initially reported that Caine ‘opened fire’ in front of Dunkin’ Donuts. The September 19, 2016 Daily News article included a photo of the Queens Dunkin’ Donuts location. Later reports include photos, clearly depicting Kadeem Trotter’s bike at the site where his body was found by police, in front of the MTA depot. This site is across a boulevard with a divider, roughly 200 yards away from the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant location. There are multiple, at least three, surveillance cameras mounted atop the building’s structure. Article photos also clearly depict two shell casings marked by a tree, diagonal to an SUV with at least one bullet hole in it. The Queens Medical Examiner also ruled Kadeem’s death a homicide, but was restricted from issuing an official report by the Queens DA. This prompted the Trotter family to obtain the Queens Hospital Emergency Room Report which revealed, Kadeem was inflicted with three entry wounds, two in the back, one in the buttocks.
McKinney’s Public Officers Law §87: Access to Agency Records Kadeem’s Grieving Family has a right to a Medical Examiner’s Report
While what little evidence the Trotter family has received contradicts Ian Caine’s account of the events, the Trotter family has been denied access to pertinent reports and other items they would otherwise be entitled to. These items include an actual physical copy of the Medical Examiner’s report, the official police report, and surveillance footage from cameras at the MTA depot (where Kadeem’s body was actually found). The police department has not produced evidence of the aforementioned BB gun and also claims to have lost the voucher permitting the family to retrieve Kadeem’s belongings. Furthermore, the family’s multiple requests for the copy of the Medical Examiner’s report have been ignored. The more formal Freedom of Information Law Request (FOIL) has also been submitted to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office to no avail.
“If the man is not in uniform effecting an arrest, then he is not a peace officer. And the Medical Examiner ruled Kadeem’s death as a homicide,” says K. Trotter, a representative from the family. “Kadeem is not here to tell us his side of the story. What’s to separate these events from other bias attacks? The DA’s office is withholding the MTA surveillance footage and the medical examiners report, crucial evidence, and The DA has yet to respond to our FOIL Request. For the last three months, we’ve heard absolutely nothing from the DA’s office. He has not offered any condolences. He did not advise us about seeking counseling for such a horrific ordeal, did not respect our rights as a grieving family. Instead, he has consistently brushed off our requests, claiming, ‘This is an ongoing investigation.’”
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown concluded his investigation on December 23, 2016. He issued a public statement on December 26th that no charges would be filed against Ian Caine, officially declaring that Caine’s actions were justified.
Kadeem Trotter’s Family Files Suit for Recovery
“When someone is shot in the back, absent extraordinary circumstances, it’s not a justified shooting,” said the family’s attorney, Edward Sivin. Sivin, has filed a $10 million Notice of Claim upon the State and the City of New York on behalf of the Trotter family. The family still awaits the district attorney’s release of the Medical Examiner’s Report and surveillance footage from the MTA.