The New York Police Department (NYPD) has suspended a police officer without pay after a video that appeared to show him use the now-banned chokehold to arrest an African-American man surfaced. The incident took place on the boardwalk that runs along Rockaway Beach in Queens on Sunday and is being investigated, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed.
The fresh report of police using the chokehold to detain a suspect comes less than a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the technique following nationwide protests calling for the end of police brutality and racism against African-Americans. However, NYPD had banned chokeholds long before that but police officers have been allegedly using it while making arrests.
Video Goes Viral
The video clicked by one of the bystanders shows at least four officers positioned above the man trying to restrain and handcuff him, with one appearing to put him in a chokehold. Another officer is seen tapping the back of his colleague urging him to release the chokehold. At least two bystanders can be heard shouting at the officers, with one yelling: "Yo, he's choking 'em, let 'em go!"
The video went viral after Anthony Beckford, a city council candidate, put it on Twitter alleging the officers to be engaged in "an Illegal modern-day lynching chokehold on a Black Man until he was unconscious. I demand his immediate firing & criminal charges for breaking the city & state ban. #DefundThePolice." Following this, the NYPD suspended the officer.
"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 tweeted. She called the incident "disturbing" and said "immediate action" was necessary while authorities investigate. However, she did not name the officer. The NYPD also released body-camera footage of the incident to the department's YouTube channel on Sunday evening.
Heated Exchange Before Arrest
The incident took place around 8.45 am wherein the video clip shows three men arguing with the police before the chokehold was used. One of them can be seen approaching the officers and saying, "You scared?" after which he is tackled by one of the officers.
According to law enforcement officials, the incident occurred after 911 received a report of three men harassing people and throwing objects at them. Last week, the New York City Council approved a bill that bans chokeholds and stipulates that an officer will be charged with criminal offence no matter if an injury was sustained or not.
Trump too signed an executive order last week aimed at the long-overdue police reforms that include a ban on chokeholds and holding "bad cops" accountable for their actions. The NYPD, however, had banned chokeholds more than three decades ago that also bars officers from sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect's chest and back during an arrest.