By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 14- A Mott Haven Teen has died two days after falling from the roof of a building-- after fleeing police officers and possibly a minor arrest for smoking marijuana in public.
Police sources say that a group of officers from the 52nd Precinct were on routine patrol, when a fed-up resident alerted cops to teens smoking pot in the lobby of 2685 Valentine Avenue in East Kingsbridge, at 7:35 p.m. on April 2.
As the group scattered, a pair of teens headed to the roof, where the victim apparently attempted to climb onto the adjacent roof-- and fell more than 60 feet to the courtyard below.
Rigoberto Morales, a resident of the building recalled, "As soon as my friend opened the door, the police ran in and started chasing the kids and I knew that was going to happen."
Minutes later Morales and several friends were sitting in his living room, when Morales continued, "I hear a boom and I thought (it's) those people throwing garbage out the window again."
Morales would soon learn that a former neighborhood resident, Hakeem Kuta, 17, a student at Bronx Envision Academy High School on Boston Road, had fallen from the roof and was critically injured.
In the confusion to offer assistance to Kuta and keep the tense crowd at bay, officers apparently allowed the still-unidentified 14 year-old to disappear in the crowd.
Morales says the front door to the building is kept locked, but stated, "Lately they (the teens) started to hang out in there and smoke marijuana and throw stuff on the floor, and the tenants don't like that."
Asked about the 14-year-old friend who police say was trying to save the doomed teen along with one of the officers, replied, "They are looking for his friend, but they haven't found him. They want to talk to him because obviously, people are saying that the police threw him off."
Morales added, "But I don't believe that."
Fellow resident Kevin DeJesus added, "Some kids do dumb things, that's why their kids. He shouldn't have to pay for this mistake with his life.
Kuta died less than 48 hours later at St. Barnabas Hospital.
A week after Kuta's death the building's porter revealed, "The door is alarmed, but the kids are still going onto the roof."
As a memorial, the porter would stick a tiny teddy-bear within a crack of cement that overlooked the debris-strewn courtyard where Kuta landed.
A new NYPD policy allows an individual to carry up to 25 grams of the drug, but smoking in public is still considered a crime. Police recovered a small amount of marijuana in the lobby.
Detectives from the Internal Affairs Bureau continue to investigate the incident.
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