The family of a 15-year-old student who was punched in the face, beaten and then arrested after a brawl in the Jay Street-MetroTech station on Friday announced they will be suing the city for $5 million for the assault on their son.
The family’s attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, says Benjamin Marshall, a student at Science Skills High School, was not involved in the fight according to witnesses, but, “the victim of excessive use of force by a police officer who punched him in the face multiple times without any justification.”
The case came to a head on Monday when Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams drew together fellow students of Marshall who had witnessed the incident or were friends who were outraged at the police officer’s actions.
Outrage over the incident was stirred up by a video that shows the attack on the student by a single police officer.
This video shows NYPD Officers brutally beating on Black Teens at the Jay Street – Metrotech. I refuse to stay quiet. I am demanding immediate accountable of all officers involved, especially the one who kept punching these children. pic.twitter.com/9fYT1ph6YR
— Anthony Beckford (City Council Candidate) 🌹 (@Vote4Beckford) October 27, 2019
The incident occurred at 2:20 p.m. on Friday when officers from the 84th Precinct and Transit District 33 were following a group into the train station as they brawled on the street; they were also followed by a large group of other student bystanders who were seeking to commute home from school. On the platform, police engaged the brawling teens, tackling several of them. Police say at least one officer was punched in the face during the melee.
At this point, students who were not involved in the brawl began recording video of the incident and that it allegedly shows Marshall trying to move past the brawl, at which point he was punched in the face several times by one officer, and thrown to the ground by that same officer, who police officials have not yet identified. Marshall was then arrested with four other teens allegedly involved in the fight.
Commissioner James O’Neill said he could not talk about the incident because of the pending litigation, but he indicated the officer was placed on “non-enforcement assignment” pending further investigation.
Rubenstein said Marshall suffered injuries that continue to cause pain including neck injuries, a bruise on his forehead from a concussion and numerous bruises.
His mother Victoria Noel said he now has problems sleeping, he “can’t sit in the back of the car because it makes him freak out.”
“Benjamin Marshall was not part of or involved in the melee that was ongoing at the train station at the time,” said his attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who Marshall went to see on Monday afternoon when Borough President Adams was holding his press conference outside the station where the incident occurred.
Marshall’s father Anthony Noel said he was notified of the arrest at 2 a.m. the following morning – 11 hours after the incident in which he was injured and he was first being given medical attention.
“We got a call at 2 a.m. from the doctor that they need permission from the parents to examine him – and they said they just looked at him and said he was okay,” Noel said of his son. “They took him to the Crossroads (juvenile detention center in the South Bronx) and he spent the night there – he was allowed to talk to his mom at 4 o’clock in the morning. All he did was go down to the train station to retrieve his bag. We are devastated by this.”
“He said ‘mommy, don’t cry, I’m okay,'” Marshall’s mother said of her son after speaking to him from the detention center.
Rubenstein said not only was he punched in the face “repeatedly,” he said “you only have to look at the video, to see he was repeatedly punched in the face and he was violently thrown to the ground – that is not what should be happening to 15-year-old kids who have never been in trouble, good student – it should not be happening in this city.”
His mother said that Marshall has changed a lot and “we have to keep cracking jokes to try to keep his spirits up.”
Attorney Joey Jackson intends to defend Marshall against charges of disorderly conduct, assaulting an officer and reckless endangerment.
“No one should be brutalized at the hands of the police and particularly to a 15-year-old who was doing nothing else but standing there minding his business” Jackson said. “We can assure you that if this matter goes forward, he will be defended vigorously. he should not be subject of prosecution, It should be the police officer who inflicted the blows upon him.”
Rubenstein said this is part of a continuing rash of incidents in which police officers have used excessive force, pointing to the Eric Garner case in which police ignored his pleas that he “can’t breathe.”
“There have been victims who have died at the hands of police in NYC and the only way we are going to get change is if those police officers who commit criminal acts are held accountable and put in jail, if that doesn’t happen nothing is going to change,” Rubenstein boomed.
Rev. Kevin McCall of the Arc Of Justice and Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter of New York joined Rubenstein and the family on Wednesday afternoon. McCall said he and his fellow activists are seeking for the officer to be fired.
“He was a student in a train station and assaulted by the New York City police department over and over again. What mantra and does the commissioner and Bill de Blasio need to hear – ‘I can’t breathe?” said McCall.
Rev. McCall and other groups have vowed to march from Jay Street to the 84th Precinct station house on Gold Street on Monday, time to be announced.