BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Aug. 28, 12:20 a.m.: A man died in Washington Square Park sometime Wednesday morning.
The Village Sun received a tip from a local resident around 12:30 p.m. that the individual had been found in the park’s southwest corner — the chess tables circle — and that, as a result, there was “lots of police activity.” When the resident came by, staff from the medical examiner, who had been on the scene, were just driving off.
“I spoke with the Parks Department, who said they thought the guy was asleep — but he was dead,” the resident said, requesting anonymity. “Parks say, ‘He was a regular’ in the southwest [corner] chess area.”
He said the Parks worker he spoke to speculated drugs were involved.
According to a police spokesperson, a 911 call was made, and the man, who was Black and initially believed to be in his 40s, was found inside the park by first responders at 8:57 a.m. He was on a chair, and showed no signs of trauma. E.M.S. pronounced the man dead at the scene.
“There doesn’t appear to be any criminality,” the spokesperson said.
He could not immediately say if a drug overdose was involved or if the death was due to natural causes.
The man had no ID on him and the investigation is continuing. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
However, a few days later, police were able to offer some more information. The dead man was actually 27, not in his 40s, and police have identified him. He lived in Brooklyn. However, a different police spokesperson said he still could not release the man’s name because it was not immediately clear if his family had been notified yet of the death. Police protocol is to notify family first before making such information public.
According to the updated information, the man was found slumped over, lying on a bench on his left side and facing up.
The “complaint sheet” on file does not state if any drug paraphernalia was found around him. However, police confirmed that the complaint sheet does state, “Possible drug overdose.”
“It looks like a possible drug overdose,” the second police spokesperson said on Sunday, adding that’s how the incident is being investigated.
The death is the latest sad news about the landmark, world-famous Greenwich Village park. In late July, as first reported by The Village Sun, the park’s administrator, Will Morrison, 31, suffered a fractured elbow after he was attacked while videoing “illegal activity” in the park. In connection with that incident, one individual, 64, has been arrested for choking Morrison in the park’s southwest corner. The park administrator plans to request an order of protection against him.
A month before that, a homeless man, 35, was stabbed to death by another homeless man, 30, in the park’s drugged-out northwest corner. About a month later, police made an arrest in that case. Surveillance video from the Washington Square Hotel reportedly helped nail the suspect, who was seen fleeing from the park with a sidekick down Waverly Place.
While it’s not yet clear if narcotics were to blame in the latest death Wednesday morning, one park regular, who requested anonymity, said many of the drug sales in the park — of crack, heroin and who knows what else — happen in the mornings, more than an hour before the victim was found.
“I see the same dealers in there daily,” he said. “There are seven that I know of, and I see the same ones every day. They have a scheme going on where one of them has the crack, one of them has the money. Give one guy money, and then go over and buy [get] crack. I’ve heard them say, ‘One’ or ‘Two’ [apparently for one or two hits]. Some women trade sex for drugs. The dealers are there before 8 o’clock in the morning and they leave at around noon or 1 or sometimes 2.”
The drug dealing in Washington Square Park is blatant — done out in the open every morning in the Alexander Lyman Holley monument oval on the park’s west side, he said. Later on, the scene filters out into the benches on the park’s west side, as the source described it. A guy on an electric scooter who conspicuously zips around the park may be “a runner” for the dealers, he said.
“If I know this s—, why doesn’t a f—ing police officer know it?” the source said, indignantly. “To hassle the artists when none of these other issues are being addressed… . They’re going to drag someone out for an umbrella, but they’re not going to do anything about people selling crack or skateboarders?”
The park regular said “normal” people sometimes come to the park to buy crack, too.
“I once saw a normal guy on a motorized wheelchair roll up and buy crack,” he said.
He had heard about the latest death.
“I heard there was a body,” he said, “that he was known in the park.”
He said people in the park who have gone on crack binges sometimes are “strung out for three days,” during which they might not eat, putting their survival at risk.
One police source, though, noted that the man found in the southwest corner Wednesday morning might possibly have died there the previous night. Maybe the park’s surveillance cameras will be able to provide more information on that.