[The video of the incident is very graphic and is included at the conclusion of this article.]
The NYPD suspended an officer without pay after a “disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens.”
What we know:
- Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the disciplinary action after an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation. “While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary,” Shea said on Sunday.
- The incident occurred on Sunday morning on a boardwalk in the Rockaway section of Queens. There is video footage from police body cam as well as a video shot by one of the men involved. The body cam footage released by the NYPD shows the moments before the incident. Police responded to reports of a disorderly group. The three men on camera make conversation with the officers and shout insults at them. One man says “I’ll throw sh*t in your face” and “touch any of my boys and you’ll be dead”. One of the other men is tries to de-escalate the situation.
- On the video shot by one of the men involved, the officers are tackle a black man to the ground and arrest him. One officer has his arm around the man’s neck, clearly in a chokehold. Bystanders yell “He’s choking him”. The arrested man, whose name has not been released, was taken to a nearby hospital and suffered a laceration.
- Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz made a statement on Sunday, saying “There must be zero tolerance for police misconduct . . . We take these allegations very seriously and an active investigation is underway.” Lori Zeno, an attorney representing the unnamed man, called for the officer who used the chokehold to be fired. She said her client faces charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing justice, and resisting arrest.
- The New York City Council passed a package of police reforms last week, including an official ban on chokeholds. The NYPD initially banned chokeholds in 1993. A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said “The video is very concerning, We’re glad the NYPD is immediately launching an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Police forces face heightened scrutiny following the deaths of several unarmed black people at the hands of the police, including George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and Breonna Taylor. This incident in New York is particularly concerning because former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner with a chokehold just six years ago. Many protests around the country are calling for officials to defund or even disband the police.
GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING
NYPD officer used an illegal chokehold on a black man this morning in Far Rockaway, NY — and only stopped because another cop realized they were being filme.
They choked him out… pic.twitter.com/SXZNnSbwDM
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) June 21, 2020