An NYPD officer was suspended after choking a Black man during an arrest Sunday morning, days after state lawmakers criminalized law enforcement's use of chokeholds amid ongoing protests against police brutality.
The incident, which occurred at about 8:45 a.m. in the 100th Precinct in Queens, was captured in a video posted to Facebook and in body camera footage released by the NYPD. The officer is seen holding the man facedown with his right arm wrapped around his neck as three other officers help to detain and handcuff him.
"Yo, stop choking him, bro," a bystander yells. "Yo, he's choking him. Let him go!"
One of the other officers pats the back of the officer who has his arm around the man’s neck, and appears to grab at his shirt before the officer lets go and pushes himself to his feet, the video shows.
Before the arrest, the body camera footage shows the Black man, who is wearing a Brooklyn Nets jersey, walking around the boardwalk with two white men. The three are seen talking with and, at times, yelling profanities at the officers from several feet away for about 9 minutes.
"Want me to smack you," the Black man says to an officer at one point. "Touch me nigga, touch any of my boys. Now you a dead boy."
The white man wearing a black tank top pushes him back, telling him, "Shut the fuck up, bro."
"We don't do that though," he adds, and the Black man then walks away.
The other white man, who is shirtless and appears to be filming the encounter with his phone, says, "You're making us look bad, bro. You're just giving them a reason to beat our asses, bro."
A few minutes later, the Black man asks an officer, "You scared?" The white man in the tank top then turns and pushes him back again, saying, "What the fuck are you doing, bro?" The officer wearing the camera then charges at the Black man, grabs his arms, and apparently tackles him to the ground. It's unclear why the officer suddenly moved to restrain and arrest him.
The officer's body camera falls off in the ensuing scuffle. Moments later, another officer picks the camera up and shows the rest of the arrest. The officer releases the Black man from the chokehold and then another officer pulls him up from the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, the video shows.
The man can then be heard talking to the officers as they walk him to the squad car. They then hold him against the SUV as the man says, "Do not touch me. I'm bipolar."
A spokesperson for the NYPD told BuzzFeed News the officers were responding to a report from a passerby about a disorderly man.
"When they got there the officer encountered a 35-year-old male acting erratically," NYPD Detective Carrie Reilly said by phone. "The individual became combative and threatened the officers as they approached him."
Reilly said when the officers tried to take him into custody, the man resisted, but they ultimately were able to handcuff him and take him into custody. No additional information about why he was arrested or why the officer used a banned maneuver to detain him was available, Reilly said.
The man was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and charges against him were still pending as of Sunday evening.
In a statement Sunday evening, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the officer has been suspended without pay and that the investigation into the "disturbing" incident was ongoing.
"Accountability in policing is essential," Shea said. "While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary."
The NYPD had banned the use of chokeholds for decades, but that hasn't stopped them from using the technique when restraining people. In 2014, Eric Garner died after then-NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to restrain him as Garner cried multiple times that he couldn't breathe.
Those were also the final words of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground and crushed his neck with a knee for more than eight minutes. As protests have erupted across the US over the violence Black men and women face from police, multiple police departments as well as local and state lawmakers have moved to ban the use of chokeholds.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill June 12 that criminalizes the use of a chokehold or a similar restraint by police as a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign a similar bill passed by the City Council in the coming days.