NYPD investigating after backlash over arrest video
The suspect is shown struggling against officers and refusing to comply with orders to cooperate
Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The city’s top cop has launched an investigation into a disturbing viral video that appears to show a group of NYPD police officers stomping a 20-year-old man suspected of smoking pot on a Brooklyn street.
“Take your hands off me! What are you doing! Help!" Fitzroy Gayle screams during the two-minute cellphone video recorded by a bystander and shared more than five million times since appearing online Wednesday night.
I’m walking home from work and this undercover cop was holding this man. The guy asked for the cop to identify himself, he ignore that. He asked what crime he commit, he ignore that too. I pulled out my phone. You can hear the guy screaming “I never thought it would happen to me” pic.twitter.com/YW2dI3g8fk— Velvet (@TheVelvetRope__) March 5, 2020
Pt 2. This shit was just completely unnecessary. Yes the guy was in the park but he has a right to be in there because it closes at 9pm. This happened in Canarsie, Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/hHjPq3JY2c— Velvet (@TheVelvetRope__) March 5, 2020
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Thursday the video shows some “disturbing points” during the 8 p.m. Wednesday arrest.
A plainclothes cop confronted Gayle at Glenwood Road and E. 100th St. in Canarsie.
“Tell me what crime did I commit?” Gayle repeatedly asked the officer, who refused to answer. “You’re supposed to tell me, that’s the law.”
About a minute later, between four and seven cops scrum around Gayle before wrestling him to the ground.
Their backs turned to the camera, the cops can be seen throwing fists and fighting with Gayle, who is screaming for help the entire time.
Shea noted that near the end of the video one of the cops stomps on Gayle’s ankle.
“I’m going to look for an investigation,” Shea said, explaining that cops were called to a nearby park on a ShotSpotter alert that gunfire had been detected.
When cops arrived at the scene, Gayle and a 19-year-old man, who were allegedly seen smoking marijuana, ran off in different directions.
One officer had caught up with Gayle before the video starts, Shea said.
“The other male was also apprehended and issued a summons,” Shea said. “Certainly if you look at the totality of the incident, there are two very separate outcomes. But I would like to have seen a third outcome. I would have liked to see an approach, discussion, no running, no physical resistance at all and no arrest needed.”
Cops took Gayle to the 69th Precinct stationhouse where he was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing government administration and possession of marijuana. He was given a summons to appear in court at a later date.
Shea said Gayle had cuts to his knee but no bruises on his face from the arrest.
Responding officers may not have known that Gayle was unarmed when he was stopped, Shea said.
“They arrive at the scene and two people take off running," he said. "I’ve been in that position myself and you don’t know what you have.”
“The end is what concerns me,” he added. "Certainly we will have to take a look at it.”
The video has also drawn the ire of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD cop.
“I just had an opportunity to view this video, and I find it completely unacceptable,” Adams tweeted Thursday. “I will be reaching out to @NYCMayor and @NYPDShea. Every officer involved should be placed on modified assignment pending the outcome of a thorough investigation.”