On the evening of September 27, 1994, thirteen-year-old Nicholas Naquan Heyward, Jr. (1981–1994) was playing cops and robbers with his friends when a housing project community police officer, Brian George, shot him. George was responding to gunshots fired in the Gowanus Houses and mistook Nicholas's toy rifle as the real thing. Nicholas died at 3:15 the next morning at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in Manhattan.The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office decided not to prosecute the case.
Nicholas was an eighth-grade honor student at Intermediate School 293, where he was active in student government and had made the varsity basketball team.
In 2001, the Gowanus Playground in Brooklyn was renamed the Nicholas Naquan Heyward, Jr., Playground, which includes a commemorative mural, the site of an annual Day of Remembrance on August 26th, Nicholas's birthday.
In November 2016, twenty-two years after the fatal shooting and following a year-long probe into the shooting death of Nicholas, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office found that Officer George did not commit a crime when he shot the boy.