Police Receive Tips Regarding "MUSTAFA" And Other Leads

The Police Receive Tips Regarding "MUSTAFA" And Other Leads

On January 28, 1998, one day after the homicide,the police debriefed Robert Copney, who they had arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance. When presented with the sketch of the shooter, Mr. Copney told the police he recognized the person depicted as "Mustafa." Mr. Copney said that he knew "Mustafa" from around the neighborhood and that he had been known to frequent the St. Nicholas Projects. He also stated that he had seen "Mustafa" in a numbers spot on the east side./p>

Most significantly, Mr. Copney stated that at 10:00 AM that morning (the day after the homicide), he was having breakfast with friends at a coffee shop at E. 123rd Street and 3rd Avenue and that one of his friends, Chuck, told him that he knew who it was that committed the homicide at the numbers spot at 2335 8th Avenue. Mr. Copney stated that when he saw the sketch he immediately knew the man to be "Mustafa."

On the following day, January 29, 1998, the police interview another individual, Archie Phillips, who had been charged with a number of drug offenses. Phillips, having no known connection to Robert Copney, stated that he was at a smoke shop at W. 145th Street and 8th Avenue buying marijuana when he heard people inside the store stating that "Mustafa" shot a guy at a numbers spot on 125th and 8th Avenue. Phillips stated that he overheard one of the smoke shop employees state, "that mother fucker is crazy." Phillips further stated that he know "Mustafa" and that he always saw him buying his marijuana at that smoke shop. He also informed the police that "Mustafa" sold blue bags of crack on W. 125th, 126th, and 127th Streets on 8th Avenue near the location of the homicide. Phillpis said that the last time he saw "Mustafa" was on January 25, 1998, two days before the homicide, in front of the smoke shop. When asked where the police could find "Mustafa", Phillips replied that he thought "Mustafa" lived in the St. Nicholas Projects. Phillips also gave the police the following description of "Mustafa": "male black, 30 years old, 5'8 - 5'9, 170 lbs", mustache / goatie Black Dread Locks."

Additionally, a third source, independent of Copney and Phillips, contacted the police and informed them that he knew the shooter - "Mustafa." This is confirmed in police notes that were turned over to the defese attorneys prior to Mr. Velazquez's trial that read: "C.I. called states Shaq was down with robbery/ ?? at spot, ran from loc - knows shooter -". Immediately under that is written, "Mustafa, M/B 5'9, 155-160 lbs, 34, thin sideburns go around like beard, hair braids, brown / tan complexion, pumps dope, 127 & 8 Ave, into doing robberies." Police records revveal that "Mustafa" was a "Primary Target" of the investigation.

Significantly, not only did Robert Copney identify the individual in the police sketch as "Mustafa", but the description given by the confidential caller is virtually an exact match to the sketch and the physical description printed on the bottom of the drawing.

In addition to "Mustafa", the police had received information with respect to two other individuals who were said to have information about the homicide. On January 29, 1998, two days after the incident, the police received a tip from Crimestoppers that an individual had called identifying himself as codename "Rattlesnake" and stated that the person who ordered the hit on Albert Ward was a man named Victor Gibson. The police ran a check on the name and two individuals with the name Victor Gibson were identified. Both individuals were black men with braids. Based upon the DD5s, it does not appear that the police did any further investigation regarding Victor Gibson.

The police also received information from a confidential informant that an individual named "Shaq" was involved in the robbery / homicide at the numbers spot, ran from the location and knows the shooter. It appears from the police notes that the also stated that "Shaq" worked for a guy who sells "Elite" heroin and that "Shaq" had been arrested two or three months earlier between W. 127th and W. 128th Streets for selling "Elite Heroin". Based upon the DD5s, it does not appear that the police did any further investigation regarding "Shaq".