Family Wants Answers on NY Teen’s Death

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NEW YORK — Dayshen McKenzie, 16, collapsed and died of an apparent asthma attack after he and a group of mostly black friends were chased by a group of white boys shouting racial slurs.

New York BureauWhile the New York Police Department has said it might have been gang-related, a former officer who is a neighbor, Diane Fatigati, says it appeared to have been racially charged.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for the federal government to investigate the Staten Island teen’s death on May 27 as a possible hate crime.

The Arrochar neighborhood, in Staten Island, where Dayshen McKenzie grew up. McKenzie died last May for an asthma attack suffered while being chased by a group of white teenagers yelling racial slurs and saying they had a gun, according to a witness. Despite indications that McKenzie’s death might be the result of a hate crime, the police is investigating it as a gang-related crime.

The Staten Island neighborhood where Dayshen McKenzie grew up.

“He wasn’t no violent person, he wasn’t no gang member, he was a child. And they did kid things,” said McKenzie’s mother Tisha Richardson as she fought back tears shortly after his death, speaking at the National Action Network’s Harlem headquarters. “He was about his music, he was about his basketball and he was about his brotherhood to his friends.”

While her son had been diagnosed with asthma as a young child, she blames those who chased him for his death. Her son was running for his life, she said, and it ended up killing him.

Fatigati emphasized that she doesn’t believe the incident was gang-related, but added, “Even if they’re saying that it was two gangs, two gangs fighting is a crime. They’re fighting. That’s assault on each other. Now in the commission of that crime, a kid died running for his life.

Tisha Richardson, 43, inside her home’s kitchen in the Arrochar neighborhood, in Staten Island. An asthma attack claimed the life of her 16-year-old son last May. The son, Dayshen McKenzie, was running away from a group of teenagers who, according to a witness, were yelling racial slurs at him and his friends. A gun was allegedly involved in the chase. As of today, authorities have declined to investigate McKenzie’s death as a hate crime, instead saying it was gang-related.

Tisha Richardson, Dayshen McKenzie's mother, in her kitchen.

“Why they don’t see what I’m seeing, I don’t know,” she said.

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