A city worker says he became a pariah in his neighborhood and online when a top NYPD official accused him of a fatal shooting outside a Brooklyn building — but never told the public he was later cleared.
Tyrell Rozzell is suing Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce and the city, saying Boyce held a press conference on Dec. 5 — fingering him and another man as the killers of Salaya Figueroa and releasing a wanted poster of them to the media.
“She was an unintended victim in this,” Boyce told reporters while identifying Rozzell and another suspect, Fred Coleman. “They were aiming for someone else. We’ve identified these two individuals as the shooters.”
When Rozzell, 27, saw the news, he hired a lawyer and planned to surrender to cops to clear his name, according to his lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
But when the lawyer called to arrange a surrender date, detectives told him not to worry about it — Rozzell had been ruled out as one of the killers, the lawsuit says. Rozzell even went to the 75th Precinct stationhouse in East New York just to make sure, and a detective again said he was free to go.
“That’s when I said, ‘What about the whole thing with the wanted poster, because that’s everywhere now, that could ruin my life. I’m not safe where I live,’ ” Rozzell recalled telling the detective, according to a transcript of a court hearing connected to the lawsuit.
Despite his concerns, the NYPD didn’t tell the public he was no longer a suspect, the lawsuit says.
As a result, Figueroa’s family and friends still believe Rozzell is one of the killers, making it impossible for him to return to the apartment he shared with his mother in the Pink Houses in East New York, the lawsuit says. Figueroa’s family also lives in the Pink Houses.
Rozzell has never been back to the apartment and now resides in Long Island with his dad.
The fallout from the press conference has also been bad for his social life and his job.
The top Google search of Rozzell’s name is a story about Boyce saying he’s a wanted man who is considered armed and dangerous.
“You Google your name and the first thing you see is you’re wanted for murder,” his lawyer, Alexis Padilla, said. “How well do you think you are going to do on Tinder?”
Rozzell, who inspects day care facilities for the Administration for Children’s Services, said he was suspended from his job for two months without pay after Boyce’s press conference. He said his supervisors suspended him because the day cares didn’t feel comfortable with him around.
Figueroa, 27, was fatally shot at 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 30 outside a building at the Pink Houses.
Coleman, the other suspect in the wanted poster that Boyce distributed, was subsequently arrested and charged with murder.
Rozzell has a weapons possession conviction from 2014, for which he received no jail time.
He said he was with Coleman the night of the shooting. In court filings he said that neither of them fired a gun.
An NYPD spokesman said Rozzell was part of its investigation into Figueroa’s killing.
“He was wanted for questioning for the murder of an innocent bystander on Nov. 30, 2016,” said the spokesman, Lt. John Grimpel.
The city Law Department said it would review the complaint.