Police Officer Suspended After Video Shows Him Striking Youth
A police officer was suspended after a video showed him repeatedly striking a young person on the head with a closed fist during a clash among several officers and at least a dozen young people near a Staten Island middle school on Tuesday.
Mayor Eric Adams, who addressed the incident on Wednesday during an unrelated news conference in Brooklyn, said he first became aware of the altercation on Tuesday night when he watched the eight-second video clip on social media.
“I was not pleased with what I saw,” Mr. Adams said at the news conference. He said he spoke Tuesday night with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who he said swiftly suspended the officer.
His rebuke appeared to be a departure from his reaction last year after a video emerged showing a detective knocking a woman to the ground during a scuffle as her boyfriend was arrested. Then, Mr. Adams was quick to defend the detective, prompting criticism.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, often praises the Police Department. During the news conference, he said New Yorkers trust the police, and events like the one on Tuesday “are not going to erode the relationship that the people of this city have with the men and women of the New York City Police Department.”
The incident occurred when the officers encountered the group, who appeared to be teenagers, on Tuesday afternoon after two young people attacked a girl, Mr. Adams said.
Exactly what led up to the moments captured on the video remains unclear, including how much time elapsed between the initial attack on the girl and the altercation between the police and the young people. But the clip shows the officers and the group yelling as they mill down a commercial block near a small park along Port Richmond Avenue, about 350 yards from I.S. 51 Edwin Markham.
As they move along the sidewalk, one officer appears to lean in and push a young person who appears to be a teenage girl backward as a second officer tries to grab her, the video shows. Her head is down and arms are raised to fend them off.
The first officer then appears to take his right fist and strike the young person on the head as other children crowd around, raising their mobile phones to capture the incident. Two young people appear to try to pull the young person back as the officer continues to strike.
“He’s hitting her?” one person says on the video.
The officer appears to strike the young person at least six times with a closed fist before the clip ends.
An officer, who has not been named, was suspended pending an internal investigation into the incident, according to a Police Department announcement on Twitter. Mr. Adams said the police will look at body camera footage and the video posted on social media.
The Police Department did not respond on Wednesday to questions regarding the details of the incident, including which officer was suspended or whether it was without pay.
A spokesman from the city’s Education Department on Wednesday said the agency could not disclose personal information about students, and declined to comment on whether the young people in the video attend I.S. 51 Edwin Markham.
Kamillah Hanks, a City Council member who represents the district where the altercation took place, wrote on Twitter that the clash took place shortly after school was dismissed. She said she asked the Police Department to investigate.
“I am encouraged by the NYPD’s swift and appropriate response to this matter,” she wrote. “Let me be clear — violence against our children is unacceptable will not be tolerated.”