Cops use force in social-distancing arrest in Brooklyn

Elias Hubbard
May 5, 2020

New York City's mayor on Monday defended the use of police to enforce social distancing, rejecting calls from watchdogs to end the practice after an officer with a costly history of alleged misconduct was caught on video pulling a stun gun on a man and violently taking him to the ground.

The Saturday altercation was captured by New Yorker Daquan Owens, who was one of several individuals in Manhattan's East Village that walked over to the corner of East Ninth Street and Avenue D at about 5:30 p.m. local time to determine why officers were making an arrest.

In the incident a man and woman were initially arrested when they allegedly refused to disperse and resisted the attempts by policemen to handcuff them, according to the Post.

© Adela Loconte/REX via Shutterstock People are shown enjoying the warm weather at Domino Park in Williamsburg neighborhood in the Brooklyn, New York on May 3, 2020, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Garcia - in a black T-shirt, jeans and a Yankees cap - turned toward Wright and cursed at him to "[get] back right now", according to the video. "Move the f**k back".

'What you flexing for? "Don't flex", Garcia said, before grabbing Wright and wrestling him to the ground, slapping and punching him in the process. The whole time, Garcia's knee is pinning Wright's head to the ground.

The recording cuts off with Garcia eventually walking away from the scene after additional officers arrive and take over the arrest.

Police repeatedly order the bystanders to "back up".

Although the majority of the released security footage offers a deeper insight into the initial arrest, it cuts off as Garcia is seen approaching Wright. He never raised his hands or hit him. Shakiem Brunson, 31, was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and weapons and drug possession charges, Ashley Serrano, 22, was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and weapons possession and Donni Wright, 33, was charged with assaulting a police officer, menacing and resisting arrest, police said.

"The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable", Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday.

Garcia was placed on modified duty pending a probe by the department's Internal Affairs Bureau.

The NYPD argues that Garcia suffered an unspecific injury in the brawl and felt threatened when Wright allegedly got into a fighting stance.

"It started out as a social distancing enforcement", Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a joint Sunday press briefing with Mayor de Blasio. "I am aware of the video that's out there, it's being investigated now by our internal affairs bureau".

The NYPD said the first man now faces charges including obstructing governmental administration, unlawful assembly, violation of local law, disorderly conduct and harassment.

On Saturday, they issued 51 summonses, including 43 in city parks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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