Friends and family members in Cambria Heights held a candlelight vigil on Thursday, July 23, in remembrance of 19-year-old Matthew Felix, who was shot and killed by a Long Island police officer in southeast Queens in February.
The families were gathered at the intersection of 217th Street and Linden Boulevard to support the Felix family as they said a prayer and released 19 balloons — one for every year Felix was alive — while also raising awareness of police gun violence and senseless gun violence in communities.
It’s been five months since Matthew’s death and his family is calling on New York State Attorney General Letitia James for justice and demanding that Nassau County police officers be held accountable.
“I want the Nassau police commissioner to know that I’m not going to stand for the lies and the coverups. My brother was unarmed,” Felix’s sister said. “The Nassau Police Department was out of their jurisdiction; they did not notify the NYPD that they were here. All they’ve been doing is playing a game of coverup.”
Felix was named an alleged carjacking suspect while Nassau County police officers were trying to place him under arrest outside of his Cambria Heights home in February, according to reports.
After meeting a person who was selling a Mercedes on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park, Felix allegedly put a gun to the victim’s head, stole the vehicle, and drove it home.
Nassau’s Third Squad detectives tracked Felix to his home, surveilled the residence, and elite Bureau of Special Operations officers were tasked with taking him into custody when the shooting occurred.
“They gave him no chance to come out of his car — without warning, they shot up his vehicle,” Felix’s sister said. “He was dead on the scene, and they left his lifeless body on the street as if it were an animal or roadkill.”
Throughout the investigation, the Felix family said they have not received information as to what actually occurred on that fateful day between Felix and the police officers.
The family is demanding information on the names of the Nassau County police officers and their names, unedited footage of the shooting, and a thorough, transparent investigation.
“We are still fighting for justice not only for Matthew — but for anyone who was ever mistreated, racially profiled or whose life ended shortly just because of the color of their skin. This is going to be a long battle,” a family member said.
A mother who lost her son to gun violence implored her neighbors to stand up and make strides to take back their community.
“Our pain deepens more than the wounds that we lit. On Aug. 8, I’m going to have to pull myself together — because that would be my son’s birthday — just so I can live another moment without him,” she said. “We can’t afford to lose another child, husband or friend.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who announced his proposal for curbing gun violence in the five boroughs, said in order to prevent such tragedies it’s important to speak about accountability, transparency and reframing what is public safety.
“I see people here who have lost their loved ones to police gun violence and families here who have lost their loved ones to civilian gun violence,” Williams said. “These communities are dealing with trauma on every level and people have a right to ask for better policing and safer streets at the same time.”
Additional reporting by Dean Moses.