Two New York police officers were suspended without pay on Friday after viral videos showed them being violent with protesters.
In one video, an officer is seen throwing a young woman to the ground while calling her "a stupid fucking bitch." In a separate incident that was also recorded, another officer pepper-sprayed a young black man after pulling down his face mask.
In a statement Friday, police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the NYPD was investigating "several troubling incidents" involving its officers' conduct during largely peaceful protests against police brutality in the city.
Shea added that the two incidents were "disturbing" and that the actions of the officers "stand apart from the restrained work of thousands of other officers who have worked tirelessly to protect those who are peacefully protesting and keep all New Yorkers safe."
In two videos, including one recorded by a Newsweek reporter, an NYPD officer was seen throwing Dounya Zayer to the ground and calling her a "stupid fucking bitch" while she was peacefully protesting in Brooklyn on May 29.
The officer was identified by Zayer and elected officials as Vincent J. D’Andraia of the 73rd Precinct.
In videos and a press conference after the incident, Zayer described how D’Andraia had shoved her to the ground with such force that she "flew out of her shoes" and slammed her head on the street. She said he had pushed her when she was recording the officers charging at protesters with her cellphone after someone threw a bottle.
Zayer said D’Andraia's commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Craig Edelman, who witnessed the assault, failed to intervene and walked by her as she cried in pain.
Zayer said she'd had seizures and had a concussion after being pushed to the ground.
Elected officials in Brooklyn issued a joint statement calling on the NYPD to fire D’Andraia, who they alleged had "a reputation of using unnecessarily violence while on the job." They also called for disciplinary action against Edelman for failing to intervene.
Shea said a "supervisor" who had been at the scene was transferred.
In the second incident caught on video, an NYPD officer pepper-sprayed Andrew Smith in the face after pulling down his protective mask while his hands were in the air during a protest on May 30.
Smith's lawyers said he'd had his hands raised in the air to show that he was complying with officers' commands.
"His compliant posture left him unable to protect himself from the full blast of the
pepper spray," the lawyers said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "The video demonstrates the excessive, unreasonable, inappropriate and illegal act by the NYPD officer who not only violated Mr. Smith’s right to peacefully protest but also exposed him to contracting coronavirus by removing his personal protective equipment."
Smith's lawyers demanded for the officer to be prosecuted and called for the NYPD to modify their training to officers in such incidents.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Smith's mother said both her sons had been pepper-sprayed during the protest.
"Today my sons went to be present as they know they could be the next George Floyd because they are black men," his mother said. "He did not have a gun, his hands were up, he was backing up... the one thing he could not do was not be a black man. Which means he did not have a chance."