A New York City police officer who was seen on video using what appeared to be a banned chokehold to restrain a Black man during an incident on Sunday afternoon was suspended without pay later that day, the Associated Press reported. Neither the officer nor the man involved in the incident has been publicly identified as of yet.
Another man who was involved in the incident took a video of the arrest on his cellphone, according to the AP. The video showed several NYPD officers restraining a Black man, who was on his stomach. One of the officers involved appeared to have his arm wrapped around the man’s neck. On the video, someone was heard yelling, “Stop choking him, bro!” In response, one of the other officers involved in the incident appeared to intervene with the cop who was apparently choking the man.
After the video was obtained by NYPD, a quick investigation was conducted, which led to the officer’s suspension without pay, the Associated Press reported. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement Sunday evening that quick action on incidents like these is crucial to good policing.
“Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay,” Shea said. “While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.”
JUST IN: An NYPD officer involved in an apparent chokehold incident in Queens, New York, this morning has been suspended without pay.@NewYorkStateAG discusses the "troubling video" pic.twitter.com/fCAQZIY6YY
— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) June 22, 2020
The NYPD has released the body cam footage from the incident, which shows the police officers interacting with a group of men for more than 10 minutes before the incident, per AP. The group of men was yelling at the officers for several minutes and the police were heard asking them to leave the area. One of the men then approached the officers and asked, “You scared?” The cops then tackled him to the ground and one of the officers put him in an apparent chokehold.
According to NBC News, the police were asked to respond to the Rockaway section of Queens after a 911 call that alleged three men were verbally harassing people and throwing things at them. A source within law enforcement told NBC News that the man who approached the officers, as seen in the body cam footage, was holding a closed bag when he approached them.
Associated Press reported that the body camera footage also showed one of the officers explaining the incident to a woman who arrived on the scene after the officer let go of the man he was restraining. The woman is heard on the video telling police that the man they restrained has mental health issues.
The NYPD banned the use of chokeholds in 1993, but using chokeholds was not criminalized in New York City until just a few days ago, according to NBC News. The NYC City Council just passed a law that makes using a chokehold illegal and requires that any officer who uses one be charged with a misdemeanor even if the chokehold does not result in injury or death.
Several cities and states have recently passed legislation to ban or criminalize the use of chokeholds. On Friday, Colorado became the latest state to ban the use of chokeholds and other uses of force by police officers.