A black Staten Island teen collapsed and died of an asthma attack after being chased by an armed white group shouting racial slurs, The New York Daily News reports. Dayshen McKenzie, 16, had left his inhaler at home when he went out with six of his friends to meet a group of mostly white men behind a fast food restaurant in Mariners Harbor. Reportedly, one of the members of McKenzie's group had a dispute with someone in the other group over a girl he'd dated two years back, and then the group of mostly white men pulled a gun.
McKenzie and his friends, who were all black, bolted. "They were calling us n----rs," Harry Smith, one of McKenzie's friends, recalled. "I just heard a lot of racial slurs. They were mixed — some white, some of them were Hispanic. But nobody was black."
McKenzie ducked into a shed in a backyard as the chase continued. The chase only broke up after the teens heard the police coming.
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"Then we heard somebody yelling Poppa's name,” Smith said, using McKenzie's nickname Poppa Jawn. "Poppa said, 'It's mad hot' — and he just fell. My friend thought he was joking, then he realized he was really down."
Investigating police reportedly focused more on the gun than on the comments shouted by the pursuers. However, former NYPD officer Diane Fatigati, who rushed to McKenzie's aid, said there is no doubt in her mind what she witnessed was a hate crime.
"To me, it's murder. They were chasing him — that's a crime. You're hunting them because they're black," she said.
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