The first thing that comes to mind is…aren’t Policemen already considered a “protected” class? Secondly, will this make them “teflon” cops…in that whatever perceived crime or infarction by an “average Joe” could include a threat to the Officer because….say…one was wearing a BLM T-shirt while contesting a traffic stop?
I’d say this matter lies somewhere between hinging on Free Speech issues and possibly even “criminalizing” free speech…because if the law is passed…the term “Black Lives Matter” in whatever context: a Tee-shirt; a bumper sticker; a large placard in a demonstration…etc. can all be perceived as THREATS toward police officers in each instance, which could/would possibly lead to arrests as violation of the issue in question.
Feel free to voice your opinions on the issue… (ks)
New York has become the latest state to introduce a Blue Lives Matter bill, which would classify assaulting an officer as a hate crime. The bill was introduced today by New York Assemblyman Ron Castorina (R), with support from Council Member Joseph C. Borelli (R) and NYPD Sergeant Joe Imperatrice, the president and founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC.
Hate crime legislation currently only applies to attacks based on race, sexual orientation, national origin, and religious affiliation. But this new legislation would classify cops as a protected class, aligning them with ethnic and religious minorities and the LGBT community.
In an interview with the New York Observer, Castorina noted the recent attacks on cops in Baton Rouge and Dallas this past month as a driving force for the bill. He also blamed Black Lives Matter protests for provoking violence against law enforcement.
“It’s based on this climate in this country right now where police officers are being abused and they’re being disrespected, and we’re seeing they have a target on their back, in Louisiana and in Dallas,” Castorina said. “You can envision this happening at a protest, where somebody might throw a rock or a bottle or a punch.”
Even without this bill, New York state law already has strict laws against assaulting law enforcement officials. The current penal code classifies assault against an officer as a Class C felony, but the Blue Lives Matter bill would turn assault into a Class B felony. Similarly, while aggravated assault against an officer is currently a Class B felony, Castorina’s measure would make it a Class A felony. If passed, the bill would lead to longer, harsher sentencing for offenders, and may criminalize protesters and groups like Black Lives Matter.
This is not the only measure New York has taken to safeguard its police officers. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and outgoing NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a purchase of $7.5 million worth of military-grade equipment for the largest police force in the country. New items included in the massive purchase include ballistic helmets, bulletproof vests, and automatic long guns.
As sponsor of the bill, Castorina has stirred up controversy in recent months. During a debate in May discussing if Roe v. Wade provisions should be included in New York state law, Castorina referred to abortion as “African-American genocide,” and claimed that millions of African Americans have been “murdered” since the Supreme Court case.
Castorina’s bill is yet another in a line of Blue Lives Matter legislation that has been introduced in other states. Louisiana became the first in May to enact such a bill, with lawmakers in Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, and the city of Chicago introducing similar legislation in the following months. Like New York’s, these bills offer hate crime protection to law enforcement, with Louisiana’s going so far as to extend assault to damaging a police car.
An NBA player whose leg was unjustifiably broken in a struggle with NYPD officers could barely crack the headlines in 2015. But it was far more important than the usual sports trivia
On Friday, Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha was found not guiltyof disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and misdemeanor obstruction of a government administration. His acquittal on all charges in his case against the New York City Police Department was vindication for the Swiss-born star, whohad his leg broken in an altercation with police earlier this year, causing him to miss the last four games of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs.
But Sefolosha’s case stretches far beyond his own personal encounter. He took a massive risk going to trial in lieu of a plea deal, a largely unprecedented decision. But in the broadest sense the way the case was largely ignored by sports media revealed far more about our desire to sensationalize trivial issues while avoiding the hardest ones.
At the trial Sefolosha explained the scene on the night of 8 April. According to the 31-year-old, he was walking away from a commotion outside of the 1Oak nightclub in New York City, accompanied by his team-mate Pero Antic (who was also arrested that night but had the charges dropped against him soon after) and two women. Sefolosha said he was followed by officer JohnPaul Giacona who said to him, “With or without a badge, I’m going to fuck you up and I can fuck you up.” Sefolosha claimed he was then attacked when he extended his arm to give money to a homeless person by the name of True.
“Two or three officers were pulling me. I said, ‘Relax.’ They never gave me a direct order. One is pulling on my right. One is pulling on my left and someone had a hand on my neck,” Sefolosha said.
The glaring truth at the center of this case however, revolves around the concept of risk. The gamble that Sefolosha took on by leading the frontline of his own defense, and the risk the media didn’t take by giving the case the coverage it deserved. Here was an NBA player, a key cog in one of the best teams in the league last season, literally getting his leg broken by the police and thereby missing the playoffs, putting his team at a disadvantage. At the very least it should have been a major sports story.
Interestingly enough, it could have all been swept under the rug far earlier as well were it not for Sefolosha’s relentless pursuit of justice. A month ago he was offered a rather favorable deal: plead guilty, face just one day of community service as “punishment,” and he’d have his record expunged. It’s something that would likely be prudent for the average person not wanting to deal with the rigors and risk of a trial against the city, but Sefolosha – knowing he had done nothing wrong – asserted his innocence and rejected the offer. He even said he was willing to testify, something most defendants avoid, as a good prosecutor on the stand can often goad even innocent people into a self-incriminating statement. Had he been convicted he could have spent up to a year in jail and had his reputation tarnished as well, severely harming his chances of playing in the NBA again.
The NBA community has been largely behind Sefolosha for the duration. Antic, who left the league this offseason to play for Fenerbahçe in Turkey, spoke to a Croatian newspaper about the incident earlier this summer.
“We were in a wrong place at the wrong time, but in the NBA, going out isn’t forbidden,” he said. “Thabo went out of a car so he could give $20 to a homeless guy and all of a sudden police started to push him violently. It was pure racism that is spread around America. Thabo is black, all officers were white. We never got explanation for their behavior. Police kills people over there and nothing happens.”
Antic’s candor was in stark contrast to the sports media’s relative dismissal of the situation. Whether it was a concerted effort on the part of major networks and publications to leave the touchy subject of police brutality alone – or if it was a more subconscious negligence, is unknown, but the silence surrounding the issue was deafening.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Sefolosha is a foreigner, maybe if he played in a bigger market or was a higher-profile player there would have been more coverage. Or maybe it’s a result of the many high-profile athletes who’ve had continuous brush-ins with the law; it’s conceivable that the media wanted to wait until the verdict to comment (indeed, commenting on a court case in progress can land journalists in legal trouble themselves). Still, when compared to the way the recent James Blake incident lit up social media, the discourse around Sefolosha was muted to say the least.
Perhaps the sports media isn’t ready to serious tackle the problems associated with race and police force, and would prefer to avoid fractious issues that could polarize their readers and viewers.
However, we should aim to do better. It can’t be enough to support athletes only on the court or the field. The NBA has a history of moving in lockstep with black culture in the US, far more so than the other major sports. From the style off the court, to the players on it, no other sport so closely represents many of the elements that make up Black America. Many would have expected more coverage from a case that reflected so many aspects of African Americans lives.
Inevitably, issues that affect the black community intertwine with those that affect the players in the NBA and that should be examined with the same depth and nuance as we give to debates about dunks, blocks and efficient field goal percentages – especially when the social and sports worlds intersect as they did here.
“Maybe I’m naïve, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or something who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy,” Blake said. But the man didn’t say a word. “[He] just rushed me,” he recalled.
The man, later identified as plainclothes police officer James Frascatore tackled Blake, twisted his arm, and slammed him face-down into the pavement. He then handcuffed the well-known tennis player. Blake was accused of being a suspect in an identity theft case involving a number of expensive items purchased with fraudulent credit cards.
“In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody,” Blake told the NY Daily News. “You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something.’ I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close (to being okay). It’s blatantly unnecessary.”
The NYPD, of course, had the perfect “not-racist” excuse: All black people look-alike.
“If you look at the photograph of the suspect, it looks like the twin brother of Mr. Blake. So let’s put that nonsense to rest right now,” New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told CNN on Thursday while explaining that Blake’s race was not a factor in his being singled out and tackled simply for using his cell phone. “Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this.”
Well, that settles it. Of course, Blake barely looks anything like the actual suspect.
Robert Boyce, chief of detective for the New York police, insisted that “If you look at the photo … it’s a reasonable likeness to Mr. Blake,” Boyce said. “They look like twins.” Of course, the “suspect,” it turns out, was also innocent.
On Friday, the NYPD released video of the attack — and the video absolutely backs the tennis star’s story. In fact, if anything, Blake undersold it. He was standing outside the door to the hotel when, out of nowhere, he was attacked. No evidence. No provocation. Nothing.
Unfortunately for the public, this is not Officer Frascatore’s first rodeo with regard to this sort of thing. The New York Times reports:
Officer Frascatore’s history of excessive force complaints, including at least three filed against him with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in 2013, revealed a pattern of residents claiming they were detained without explanation and mistreated despite complying. It also led some lawyers and residents to criticize the Police Department for not punishing him before he was involved in another rough arrest.
The complaints against the officer are pretty brutal. One resident was stalked, then stopped by Frascatore in his driveway after a bike ride home. After the officer asked him for identification, the man attempted to walk inside to get it. Another officer grabbed him from behind while Fracastore began punching him. As Warren Diggs screamed for help, yet another officer sprayed him with mace while the officer who initially grabbed him began choking the helpless man. Diggs was charged with resisting arrest and marijuana possession, and his wife was chargged with tampering with evidence because she took his bicycle inside. All charges were ultimately dismissed.
Leroy Cline was stopped in 2012 by Officer Frascatore because of a broken tail light. The officer grabbed Cline, pulled him out of his car, and punched him in the face. Frascatore claimed Cline had bitten him, but a review of medical records revealed that the injury to Frascatore’s hand was consistent with him punching Cline in the mouth. Cline was charged with assaulting a police officer, but the charge was dropped after he pleaded guilty to a traffic infraction.
“I am determined to use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve,” Blake said in a statement Friday. The tennis star called on the city to make “a significant financial commitment” to ending this wanton racist violence.
The NBA Players Association is still conducting its own investigation into the incident outside a New York City club that left Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha under arrest. But based on video of the event, the union’s top official hasn’t seen much to persuade her that police officers’ treatment of Sefolosha, who suffered a broken leg during the arrest, was warranted.
“The best I can tell is that there’s no video at all that anybody has seen that would justify the way the police treated him,” Michele Roberts, the NBPA’s executive director, told NBA.com’s David Aldridge on Sunday. Though Roberts “didn’t want to say too much” because of the pending investigation, Aldridge reported, that is the strongest statement from Roberts or other union officials about Sefolosha’s injury and arrest.
Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic were arrested outside 1OAK following the stabbing of another NBA player, Indiana’s Chris Copeland, inside the New York City nightclub. Both players were charged with obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct, and according to NYPD accounts, Sefolosha had instigated an altercation with police and resisted arrest. But other accounts, including one from a Sports Illustrated source who said police actually provoked the incident, have painted a different picture, and two videos published by TMZ show what appears to be a much different situation than NYPD officers have described.
Sefolosha and Antic were not immediately outside the nightclub, according to accounts, and the second of the two videos appears to show Sefolosha urging officers to “relax” before they tackled the 6-foot-5 NBA veteran to the pavement. The video also shows an officer striking Sefolosha with a club as onlookers yell for them to stop. Sefolosha has said in a statement that the broken leg and ligament damage that will keep him out of the NBA playoffs, which began Saturday, happened during the incident and that police were responsible.
Sefolosha’s run-in with NYPD comes at the end of a season in which NBA players were among the most outspoken athletes on police violence and abuse of black men. Derrick Rose, LeBron James, and other players wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts before games in December to protest the death of Eric Garner, who died after an NYPD officer put him in a headlock.
Now, the attention has turned to one of their own, a point that makes it even “more personal,” Brooklyn Nets guard Jarrett Jack told Bleacher Report. And as players across the league, including Sefolosha’s Atlanta teammates, have expressed support for him since news of the injury, they have linked it to larger problems of police treatment of black men across the country.
“I think a lot of people fear black males, so it’s scary,” Jackson, Sefolosha’s former teammate, said last week, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s trying times right now. Everybody’s trying to bring social order back, and hopefully we can get a better world.
“I’m not gonna lie, it’s kinda unfair at times as a black male,” he continued. “Only thing that I feel protects us is probably the celebrity status and being an NBA player, but nobody’s off limits when you see what happens to a former teammate like Thabo.”
“It’s a point of concern,” Atlanta forward Al Horford told ESPN of Sefolosha’s case and the current focus on police abuse. “A light is being shed on it, and I’m sure some things are going to change. They need to for society to be better.”
The NYPD is conducting an internal review of the incident, and the NBA, like the players union, has launched its own investigation into it. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that the league’s job was to play “fact-finder” in looking into Sefolosha’s injury and that it didn’t want to pre-judge the outcome.
“He’s a player in this league, and we want to help him and assist him in any way we can. And our way of assisting him is to get the fullest understanding we can from what happened that night,” Silver said.
An AirAsia plane goes missing, thousands turn out for an NYPD officer’s funeral, and more.
1. Indonesia suspends search for missing AirAsia plane
Darkness and poor weather forced Indonesian search crews to postpone their hunt for an AirAsia plane that went missing Sunday morning en route to Singapore. Flight QZ8501, which was carrying 162 people, lost contact with air traffic controllers over the Java Sea after its pilots requested a change of course to avoid stormy weather. Ships will keep scouring the water overnight, but the air search will not resume until Monday morning. [The Associated Press]
2. Mourners gather for NYPD officer’s funeral
Thousands of police and politicians from around the country turned out Saturday in New York for the funeral of NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, one of two officers ambushed and killed last weekend. Mourners packed several city blocks in Queens and some officers, reflecting a raw rift with City Hall, turned their backs on a videoscreen when it showed Mayor Bill de Blasio delivering his eulogy. The city has been roiled for weeks by protests over recent police killings of unarmed civilians. Alluding to that strife, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Saturday the only way for the city to heal and move forward was for civilians and the the police to “learn to see each other.” [The New York Times]
3. U.S. ceremonially ends combat mission in Afghanistan
The United States and NATO on Sunday formally marked the end of the 13-year war in Afghanistan with a ceremony at their military base in Kabul. Though the official mission will end at the close of the year, some 13,500 soldiers will remain behind as a peacekeeping and training force. All American troops were originally scheduled to leave at the start of 2015, but with Afghanistan’s security situation as tenuous as ever, the country in October signed a deal to allow a residual foreign force to remain into next year. [The New York Times]
4. North Korea blames U.S. for mass internet outage
North Korea on Saturday faulted the United States for allegedly cutting its internet access in retaliation for the Sony cyberattack. “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unnamed government spokesperson said in a statement. The U.S. claims North Korea is behind the massive cyberattack that led Sony to initially scuttle the release ofThe Interview, a buddy comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. [The Washington Post]
5. Study finds marijuana use increasing in Colorado
Marijuana use is on the rise in Colorado now that the drug is legal there, according to a new federal study. Based on data collected in 2012 and 2013 and published in the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the study found that about one in eight Colorado residents used marijuana in the past month. Only Rhode Island posted a higher usage rate. [The Denver Post]
6. Flooding forces 200,000 evacuations in Malaysia
Widespread flooding and the threat of landslides forced Malaysia to evacuate more than 200,000 people over the weekend. At last 10 Malaysians have died in severe flooding caused by annual monsoon rains. Harsh rains and flooding have killed roughly 30 more people in Sri Lanka and Thailand. [Bloomberg, CNN]
7. Hundreds evacuated from burning Greek ferry
Rescue crews raced on Sunday to pull hundreds of passengers from a ferry that caught fire while en route from Greece to Italy. The ship, the Norman Atlantic, was carrying more than 450 passengers when a fire broke out on its lower deck. Boats and helicopters participating in the rescue mission evacuated more than 150 people within a few hours, though rough seas and bad weather hindered the operation. [The Guardian, BBC]
8. Hamas scuttles children’s peace visit to Israel
Hamas on Sunday barred three dozen children from making a scheduled trip from Gaza to Israel that was intended to foster goodwill following the summer’s brutal war. The children, most of whom lost family members in the war, were supposed to spend the week visiting Jewish and Arab communities. A Hamas spokesperson said the cancelation was intended “to protect the culture of our children and our people.” [The Jerusalem Post]
9. Sony Playstation back online after hack
Sony’s Playstation Network went back online Saturday night after being down for three days due to a cyberattack. The company blamed hackers for disrupting online play beginning on Christmas, saying they flooded the network with traffic until it collapsed. Microsoft’s Xbox Live network also went down Thursday, though the company has not fingered a culprit. [The Wall Street Journal]
10. Jim Harbaugh expected to take Michigan coaching job
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh will reportedly agree to a lucrative contract to return to the collegiate level and coach for his alma mater, the Michigan Wolverines. Harbaugh parlayed a quick turnaround of the Stanford Cardinal into a successful NFL coaching gig in which he led the 49ers to three NFC Championship games in four years. But tension between Harbaugh and San Francisco brass led to yearlong rumors the coach was on his way out, and the speculation only intensified when Michigan, coming off another disappointing season, fired coach Brady Hoke earlier this month. [Sports Illustrated, Detroit Free Press]
How a crisis intervention program pioneered in Memphis could save lives and prevent arrests.
Hawa Bah had not expected the police.
It was September 2012, and she had just arrived in New York from her home in Guinea to check in on her 28-year-old son, Mohamed. She had heard he had been acting strangely—missing work and skipping classes he was taking at the Borough of Manhattan Community College—and wanted to assess the situation for herself. When he holed up in his Harlem apartment and refused to leave shortly after she arrived, she grew concerned enough to ask a cousin to call 911.
Bah was expecting medical workers, so when police officers appeared instead, she was perplexed. “Let me talk to my son,” she begged as the officers began forcing their way into her son’s apartment. “He never tells me no.” But the police brushed off her concerns, telling her “not to worry.”
What unfolded soon after was a violent confrontation between the police and a desperately ill young man that ultimately led to his fatal shooting. After police officers kicked down his door and began yelling at him, Mohamed Bah lunged toward two of them with a knife, splitting open their protective vests. Three of the officers then pumped as many as eight bullets into him, one of which entered the left side of Mohamed Bah’s head. One of the officers left with a knife cut to his arm.
The death of Mohamed Bah, sudden and dramatic as it was, was not an anomaly in the long, troubled history of encounters between the New York Police Department and the city’s mentally ill. The last few decades have been punctuated by cases like this, stories of men and women in the grips of psychosis who wound up dead or wounded after police had been called in to help. Eleanor Bumpurs, Gidone Busch, Kevin Cerbelli, David Kostovski, Shereese Francis and Iman Morales all died after encounters with the police went horribly wrong, and many more have been hurt or arrested in the process.
For the families of these victims as well as advocates, the deaths of their loved ones—children, brothers, sisters and mothers—have raised unsettling questions about what might have happened differently if experts trained in crisis intervention had been called to the scene rather than the police. Could their deaths have been avoided if they had been treated like people in throes of psychiatric breakdowns, not criminals? “[The police] yell to get the situation under control instead of taking a reflective listening approach. It escalates the situation,” said Carla Rabinowitz, a community organizer with Community Access, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to providing services and support to New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities.
Now, however, there is hope that the terrain in New York State may be tilting toward a new crisis intervention model that pairs teams of mental health professionals with specially trained officers to respond to mental health emergencies, rather than cops. Just within the last few months, several proposals at several levels of government have moved closer to reality, thanks, in part, to the advocacy of Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams, a coalition of more than sixty behavioral health providers and concerned New Yorkers.
In February, New York State Senator Kevin Parker proposed a bill that would require Crisis Intervention training for the NYPD. Not long after, in April, New York State set aside $400,000 from the 2014-2015 state budget for a pilot program to train police officers in approaching the mentally ill during crises. And in June, the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio created a task force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, with the goal of providing New York with a pathway to treat the mentally ill outside of the criminal justice system.
Meanwhile, the Bah family is in the process of suing the city of New York for $70 million in damages as well as changes to the way the NYPD responds to emotionally distressed New Yorkers in crisis. They are calling specifically for the police department to implement a Crisis Intervention Team methodology. If that had been in place when Hawa Bah called 911 two years ago, they believe Mohamed would still be alive.
“I want justice, and the justice I want is not just for my son,” said Hawa Bah, crying into the phone. “It’s for all people to not feel like I feel. I used to work and help my children, help my family. Since they killed my son, I can’t do nothing, I can’t walk three blocks.”
* * *
The Crisis Intervention Team model was pioneered more than twenty-five years ago in Memphis, Tennessee, after police killed a mentally ill young man they had been called in to help. The idea emerged out of months of consultations between the police department, mental health providers and two universities, and was designed with the goal of creating “safety, understanding, and service to the mentally ill and their families,” according to the Memphis city government website. Towards this end, the program has forged a close partnership between mental health providers, people with mental illness and law enforcement. Police and mental health professionals respond together to crisis calls, and the police also receive extensive training to help individuals in crisis, especially those who are mentally ill.
In the decades since it was launched, the CIT program has become a model for other cities around the country. Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston and San Antonio have all employed some form of the program, with impressive results. Since San Antonio implemented its CIT program in 2003, for instance, the city’s police force has not once engaged in deadly force against someone in the grips of psychiatric episode.
New York City, however, has yet to join the list of cities that have embraced CIT. Indeed, it is the only major city in the United States that has not done so, despite the 100,000 “emotionally disturbed person” calls the NYPD receives each year. What the city does have is an Emergency Service Unit that consists of an elite corps of officers trained to respond to extreme emergency and high-risk situations. These include everything from SWAT and counter-terror operations to assisting mentally ill New Yorkers. It is worth noting that it was one of these units that was called in to quell the situation with Mohamed Bah the day he was shot.
The NYPD also provides its cadets with between eight and sixteen hours of training each year in responding to New Yorkers in high emotional distress, and 1.5 hours of training in working with people with disabilities, according to the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. But Rabinowitz argues proper crisis intervention training should be closer to 40 hours a year.
“Police are the first to encounter those in an emotional crisis and police are on the frontlines, whether we like it or not,” said Community Access’s Rabinowitz. “They need tools to respond to these crisis calls so everyone can walk away safely.”
Rabinowitz, along with Steve Coe, the CEO of Community Access, and other advocates have spent years pressing for the NYPD to shift its approach to these crisis episodes. But it wasn’t until last year that their efforts began to get traction. That is when a group of mental health advocates formed the coalition “Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams” in an attempt to begin a conversation around crisis intervention with the candidates then running for mayor. The coalition researched CITs in other major cities and approached the candidates, asking them to include establishing CITs in their platforms. As mayor, de Blasio went a step further by establishing a task force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System last June. Its goal is to research and then recommend and implement strategies to decouple mental health treatment from the criminal justice system, with which it has all too often been lumped.
“I’ve charged the Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System with developing innovative strategies to transform, reform and update this city’s criminal justice system,” de Blasio said in a statement announcing the task force. “In the interest of justice and public safety, the task force will take a comprehensive look at how, as a city, we can provide real, lasting mental health and addiction treatment for those in need.”
Advocates expect recommendations to come from the task force within the next month, or perhaps sooner. (There are whispers that its recommendations could be released as early as this week.) It is their hope the task force will recommend Crisis Intervention Teams as well as a diversion unit so that police can take those suffering from a mental crisis somewhere besides a hospital or central booking.
Dustin Grose, a twenty-nine-year-old Brooklyn native, shares this hope. He has first-hand experience of the way a situation can quickly turn violent when the police are the primary responders to crisis calls. At 14, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 2008, after an argument with his parents, his mother called the paramedics to take her son to the hospital, concerned he was having another episode. As in the case of Mohamed Bah, the police arrived. He reluctantly went outside with the four officers who came to his bedroom door and then, as Grose recalls, an officer hit him, unprovoked, in the face. Because he was handcuffed and punched repeatedly, he suffered a broken nose as well as back injuries and injuries to his hands.
Grose also sued the city of New York and settled for an undisclosed amount. “A person with a mental illness is not a criminal,” he said. “I wasn’t even in an enraged state and that happened to me. I wasn’t fighting with them… so imagine if someone was already enraged and imagine if a cop treated him as a criminal, it leads to death.”
Two NYPD officers are under criminal investigation after punching and bashing a 16-year-old suspect in the face with a gun despite the teen raising his hands to surrender, according to a video obtained by DNAinfo New York.
The surveillance footage obtained exclusively by “On The Inside” shows the two officers catch up to marijuana suspect Kahreem Tribble after a brief chase in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
As the teen stops running, one officer throws a punch at his face. Then, as the suspect raises his hands, the other officer clocks him with his gun.
Tribble was arrested for possessing 17 small bags of marijuana and disorderly conduct on Aug. 29. At his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to a violation and was released with cracked teeth and bruises.
“What’s depicted on this video is troubling and warrants a thorough investigation,” Thompson told “On The Inside.”
According to court records, law enforcement sources and the video, the encounter started in front of 1311 St. John’s Place at 2:20 a.m. when three anti-crime officers spotted the 6-foot-2 teen peering into the window of parked mini-van.
When the officers got out of their car to approach Tribble, he allegedly tossed away a small black canvas bag and took off running. The officers — one with his gun drawn — gave chase, concerned that the suspect had a weapon, sources said.
Shortly thereafter, Tribble slows down and stops and appears prepared to be arrested. But an officer, identified as Tyrane Isaac, rushes up to him and takes a swing at his head.
The teen ducks the blow and then can be seen retreating — with his hands up — to a storefront gate.
Officer David Afanador — his gun drawn — then catches up and rushes straight to Tribble, hitting him in the his face with his gun, breaking a front tooth and chipping another.
On the video, Afanador then holsters his weapon and retraces his steps to retrieve the canvas bag, leaving Isaacs to put the cuffs on Tribble.
But before he does, Isaac punches Tribble again and pushes him onto his stomach.
The video ends with Afanador waving the bag in front of Tribble’s face before smacking him with it.
A third officer, identified as Christopher Mastoros, can be seen taking no action to help Tribble.
Sources say officials were particularly concerned about Afanador using his gun on the teen because it could have accidentally fired — injuring or killing him, another officer or an innocent bystander.
Afanador has been suspended without pay. Isaac was placed on modified duty, stripped of his badge and gun.
Both officers have been on the force for nine years and now face possible criminal charges and dismissal, sources say.
Mastoros, also a nine-year veteran, could face a departmental charge for failing to stop his colleagues, sources say. He is not part of the criminal probe.
Each of the officers has two other cases lodged against them by defendants alleging false arrest or being victims of excessive force, according to court records. The cases were not connected.
Mastoros made news two years ago when he was credited with helping save the life of a partner, Kevin Brennan, who survived being shot in the head after chasing a gunman into a Bushwick building.
The video is the latest to surface since the viral video of the tragic “choke hold” death of Eric Garner. Last week, Bratton told a confab of top NYPD officials that he was committed to rooting out bad apples engaged in brutality and corruption.
Sources say Internal Affairs was tipped off to the Tribble video a few days after his arrest. Roughly two weeks ago, IAB supervisors brought their findings to Thompson to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
Patrick Lynch, the police union president, said the tape does not tell the entire tale.
“As usual, the video fails to capture the offense that resulted in police action or the lengthy foot pursuit that culminated in the arrest,” he said.
“Situations like this one happen in real time under great stress. It’s very easy to be judgmental in the comfort of an office while sitting in front of a video screen.”
Tribble’s lawyer, Amy Rameau, told “On The Inside” that her client was heading home from a friend’s apartment when the officers chased him.
“My client was minding his own business and they decided to chase him for no reason,” she said. “Their account is concocted to justify what they did, to cover their asses, to legitimize their criminal conduct.”
She said in addition to suffering broken teeth, Tribble was bleeding from his mouth and “begging for medical attention,” but was only sent to Interfaith Hospital when other officers at Central Booking saw him.
She said she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD and the officers.
The clash has left the teen “petrified” of police and “traumatized and fearful that they will come after him again.”
The New York Daily News has uncovered yet another allegation of egregious force by New York Police Department officers. Emergency medical technicians told the newspaper they witnessed four officers beat a man being carried away in a stretcher in handcuffs, after he spit and cursed at the officers.
Officers responded by punching the patient in the face multiple times, pulling him off the stretcher and onto the ground, and then throwing him back into the stretcher, according to a written report by EMT officers to the Fire Department of New York. All the while, the patient remained helpless, restrained in both handcuffs and foot shackles. An EMT who reported the incident to the Fire Department of New York said in the report that he and another EMT who corroborated the story had to intervene to break up the beating. He said the patient “sustained injuries to the head and face” that were treated in the ambulance.
The EMTs were first called to retrieve the patient from a Brooklyn police precinct and bring him to a hospital on the evening of July 20. The patient was described as “emotionally disturbed,” “combative” and banging his head against the wall.
A representative for the New York Police Department told Reuters on Tuesday that the Internal Affairs unit was investigating the incident. He declined to confirm the details of the incident.
A friend emailed me today and asked me why hadn’t I reported some of the malicious treatment by police officers against alleged “perpetrators” in recent weeks. I think I wrote back saying that I have in fact reported on police violence in the past but wanted to stick to the tagline of this blog: Sorting out the crazies.
The truth of the matter (and my friend touched on this in his email) I probably didn’t want to offend the readers of this political blog with stories of police misconduct across the nation. Perhaps there’s even a deeper reason…
So, I have decided to include some of the police misconduct craziness going on across the country (especially in the northeast) perpetrated by poorly trained, unprofessional cops everywhere. (H/t: LTL)
Disturbing video captures the NYPD arresting a woman as she shouts that she needs her oxygen. The woman was dragged naked from her Brownsville, Brooklyn apartment by NYPD.
Denise Stewart, a 48-year-old Brooklyn woman was dragged by NYPD from her apartment and arrested in the late hours of July 13, New York Daily News reported. The grandmother had just taken a shower and was only wearing a towel and pair of underpants when NYPD pounded on her door.
The NYPD officers were responding to a domestic violence 911-call made from the Brownsville apartment building. However, according to the Daily News, they did not know the apartment number. After hearing shouts from Stewart’s apartment they banged on the door at 11:45 PM. According to the Daily News, Stewart told the police they had the wrong apartment and attempted to close the door. Denise Stewart was then dragged by the NYPD cops into the hallway.
Neighbors captured part of the arrest on video, which shows male officers struggling to subdue the woman, and Stewart calling for her oxygen.
“For approximately two minutes and 20 seconds, Stewart was bare-breasted in the hallway as additional police officers tramped up the stairs and through the hallway, glancing at her as they passed by,” the Daily News reported. Eventually a female officer covered her with a towel.
Shouts of “Oxygen, get my oxygen” can be heard int he video.
“Ok, ok,” a police officer says, and leaves the frame.
“Her asthma! Her asthma! Her asthma,” shouted bystanders.
Stewart, who has asthma, fainted during the arrest, according to the Daily News.
The NYPD arrested Denise Stewart and charged her with assaulting a police officer — she bit an officer’s finger during the scuffle. Denise Stewart’s 20-year-old daughter Diamond Stewart was arrested and charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child, resisting arrest and criminal possession of a weapon. Stewarts’s 24-year-old son Kirkland Stewart was charged with resisting arrest.
Stewart’s 12-year-old daughter was also taken into custody. According to the police, the 12-year-old had injuries on her face and claimed that her mother and sister hit her with a belt. The 12-year-old daughter later resisted arrest, and allegedly kicked out a police van window, cutting an officer’s chin. She was charged with criminal mischief, criminal possession of a weapon and assaulting a police officer.
Denise Stewart’s lawyer, Amy Rameau, was told by a Legal Aid lawyer that the original 911 call came from a different apartment at the Kings Highway address. The NYPD allegedly arrived at Stewart’s apartment by mistake.
“They manhandled [Stewart] and behaved in a deplorable manner,” Rameau said. “She feels completely mortified. This is about human dignity.”
Rameau also explained that the Administration for Children’s Services investigated and found no evidence of neglect.
The New York Police Department may be showing early signs of reforming its practices, but it still hasn’t come to terms with its image. In a PR gaffe that was seemingly predictable to everyone but the NYPD, the Department put out a call on Twitter for constituents to send positive photos about the Department’s work under the hashtag #myNYPD.
The campaign had gone so awry by morning that the New York Daily News splashed the headline “Bash Tag” across its front page Wednesday morning.
But even now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has cut back on the rampant stop-and-frisks, Muslim spying, and brutality that became synonymous with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD, the department doesn’t seem to have shed the attitude that prompted NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to declare last year, “You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting.”
And while one of the NYPD’s biggest mistakes was failing to realize that Twitter is an inherently inhospitable forum for glowing public relations, it’s worth taking a look back at the patterns of systemic abuse that underlie the outrage:
Targeting young black and Hispanic men. The NYPD’s systematic campaign against the city’s young minority men is not just evidenced by statistics that show they stopped more young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city. The federal judge who ruled the police department’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional also found that the department explicitly targeted Hispanic and black men between the ages of 14 and 20 as “the right people,” and established de facto stop quotas that fueled the pervasive tactic.
Aiming to “instill fear” in residents. The administration that thought stop-and-frisk was the answer to everything developed its reputation in part through a campaign of fear. One state senator testified at the trial on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his goal was to “instill fear” in young minority men. In one incident, an officer admitted during the trial that he told a 13-year-old to stop “crying like a girl” as he handcuffed and detained him.
Arrest for documenting abuse. As evidenced by the most recent campaign, the only reason the public knows about many of the most egregious NYPD incidents is because they were documented by photos or recordings. But many individuals have reportedarrests and even beatings by NYPD officer for trying to exercise their First Amendment right to record the police. The department even circulated a “wanted” poster for a couple that was legally recording stop-and-frisks.