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Mourners Gather Near South End Home Of Man Killed In Police-Involved Shooting

Tori Furtado holds a candle as she observes a moment of silence for Terrence Coleman during Wednesday evening's vigil and march. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Tori Furtado holds a candle as she observes a moment of silence for Terrence Coleman during Wednesday evening's vigil and march. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
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Some critics of Boston police are calling for the resignation of Commissioner William Evans over the fatal shooting of a South End man with mental health issues by the department's officers.

Many of the more than 100 people who turned out for a vigil on Wednesday evening in memory of 31-year-old Terrence Coleman blame the death on police leadership.

Brock Satter, an organizer with the group Mass Action Against Police Brutality, attended the memorial service held just steps away from the apartment on Shawmut Avenue where Coleman lived and was killed. Satter said he believes Evans cannot be trusted to hold police officers accountable.

"We find it really problematic his commentary ... without any kind of hedging or any kind of investigation, repeating as just pure fact the story of his officers," he said. "There's clearly two versions of what happened."

The shooting took place early Sunday morning, after Boston police and EMTs were called to the apartment to check on the well-being of Coleman, who emergency workers were told had schizophrenia. Authorities say responding officers shot and killed Coleman for attempting to attack the EMTs with a knife.

Hope Coleman, wearing sunglasses, is supported by family members at Wednesday evening's vigil and march for her son Terrence Coleman. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Hope Coleman, wearing sunglasses, is supported by family members at Wednesday evening's vigil and march for her son Terrence Coleman. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The mother of Terrence Coleman, Hope Coleman, insists he was not holding a knife.

Police department leaders, like Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross, say they appreciate community concerns but hope the public will withhold judgment until an investigation is completed. While standing near the vigil with a handful of other officers at Peters Park, Gross dismissed calls for resignations.

"They always ask either the commissioner or myself or the mayor to step down, without even asking us anything about the facts of the case," Gross said.

The Suffolk District Attorney's office said it is conducting an independent investigation into the department's lethal use of force.

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Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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