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N.Y. attorney general investigates after police kill black man holding metal pipe

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating the shooting death of a black man after police said they mistook a metal pipe he was carrying for a gun.

Shooting follows a number of killings of unarmed black men by police in U.S. cities

An investigator takes pictures at the scene where officers shot and killed a man in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn on Wednesday. (Kevin Hagen/Associated Press)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating the shooting death of a black man after police said they mistook a metal pipe he was carrying for a gun.

Schneiderman said Thursday that his office, which has the power to investigate police-involved deaths of unarmed people, is committed to "an independent, comprehensive and fair investigation."

Saheed Vassell, 34, was killed around 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the Crown Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn. 

Officers responded after three 911 callers reported a man "pointing a silver firearm at people on the street," said Chief of Department Terence Monahan. 

Neighbourhood in uproar after death of man they say was harmless 1:01

Vassell "took a two-handed shooting stance" and "pointed an object at the approaching officers," Monahan said.

Four officers then fired a total of 10 rounds.

Police had encountered Vassell before and classified him as emotionally disturbed, according to the New York Times.

Video posted to social media showed a crowd gathered on the street after the shooting. Some yelled "oppressors" as they faced off against several officers standing on the other side of police tape. 

The shooting follows a number of killings of unarmed black men by police that have triggered street protests and fuelled a national debate about bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Police on Thursday released an edited video showing some of what led up to the shooting. The YouTube video includes some surveillance camera footage and transcribed excerpts of calls made to 911. The video doesn't show the officers or offer any view of the interaction that happened before the officers fired their weapons.