The NYPD Is Reviewing A Video Showing An Officer Using Two Hands To Throw A Woman To The Ground
"I wasn't aggressive towards the police officer, and even if I was he should have had the self restraint to not hurt to people he's supposed to be protecting," the woman in the video said on Saturday.
The New York Police Department said it is reviewing an incident in which an officer was caught on video appearing to throw a woman to the ground during a Brooklyn protest Friday night.
Newsweek reporter Jason Lemon first shared the now-viral video, which shows a white, uniformed police officer using two hands to throw the woman to the ground. Lemon's tweet said that the officer called the woman a "stupid fucking bitch."
"We are aware of the video and the incident is under internal review," an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
On Saturday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there would be an independent review of the protests and the police response, including the incident on the video.
The incident occurred as thousands took to the streets of New York City and cities across the country to protest the killing of George Floyd, who died Monday after being pinned to the ground in a knee chokehold by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The woman pushed to the ground, Dounya Zayer, refuted allegations that she was aggressive toward the officer or that she had spit in his face, and in a series of tweets and video said that the officer approached her and told her to get out of the street before throwing her to the pavement.
Zayer herself shared a video of what she said was the same incident, filmed seconds before she was thrown. In her video, the officer can be heard telling her to get out of the street.
"He threw my phone before throwing me," she tweeted. "As you can see I was already backing up. All I asked was why."
Another angle of the encounter showed protesters yelling at the officer and rushing to help Zayer, who was on the ground.
Whitney Hu tweeted that Zayer was taken to the ER after "a serious seizure." On Saturday morning, Hu tweeted that Zayer had been discharged from the hospital and was back home recovering.
Hu, a local activist and organizer, told BuzzFeed News she went to the scene when she saw officers starting to rush toward and push protesters, and said she was shocked to witness Zayer being thrown to the ground by the officer.
"When you watched the video and see his intentions, the fact that he called her a bitch, that was intentional," Hu said. "He was taking out his anger and his frustrations on a civilian."
Hu and other demonstrators helped move Zayer to a stoop and get her medical attention from paramedics before she was transported to the hospital, where Hu — who had not met Zayer prior to the protest — stayed with her until she was discharged.
"It was a really scary ambulance ride," Hu said. "We were lucky."
As for the police officer, who has not been identified, Hu wants the city to take decisive action.
"I don’t want an investigation, it’s not something for the mayor to be like, 'my condolences,'" Hu said. "We need his badge, he needs to be fired. This is a man we shouldn’t have on the force."
De Blasio addressed the video during a press conference Saturday morning.
"Any time you see a protester just arbitrarily thrown to the ground by a police officer, that does not reflect our values," the mayor said. "It's unacceptable ... the NYPD has to do better ... There will be accountability. We have to keep people's faith that the NYPD is here to protect them."
NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea said he was aware of two videos involving police officers at the protests that he called "disturbing," and said he had been in touch with the department's internal affairs bureau about them.
Zayer tweeted several videos from the hospital early Saturday, saying she had experienced a seizure after hitting her head on the ground and was being treated for a concussion.
BuzzFeed News' requests for comment from Zayer were not immediately returned.
"We were all in a crowd peacefully protesting in front of a crowd of police officers, and someone from our side threw a bottle or something and it caused all the officers to start stampeding towards us," Zayer said in another video. She said another police officer pushed her prior to the incident that was filmed, and that's when she began recording.
She said she was speaking to the officer in an attempt to ask why protesters were being pushed and to explain that they were peacefully protesting.
"As you could see, I was already running backwards, it wasn't like I was trying to get in his face," Zayer said. "I wasn't being aggressive, and there was no reason for him to throw me the way he did."
She also responded to people who criticized her for standing in the street.
"If you really want to compare me standing in the street to the officer who killed George Floyd in cold blood," Zayer said, "it's not comparable."
"I wasn't aggressive towards the police officer, and even if I was he should have had the self-restraint to not hurt to people he's supposed to be protecting," Zayer said. "That's the point of them being an officer. They're supposed to protect us."