Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wants the NYPD to place on modified duty a cop who allegedly struck a teenager in the face during an altercation at the Jay Street-MetroTech station Friday afternoon.
During a press conference Monday afternoon outside the Downtown Brooklyn station, Adams said he was “outraged” by the actions of one officer who is seen on a viral video punching a teen in the face, then attempting to stop prevent others from taking a video. People have a legal right to record video of a police action, provided they are not obstructing police from doing their job or causing a hazard.
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 apparently occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 as a large group of students were leaving Science Skills High School at 49 Flatbush Ave. Extension and were heading to the Jay Street-MetroTech station. The officers involved were apparently following the group from the street and followed them into the station when they became overly boisterous and hostile to each other.
When they got into the subway system, a brawl broke out between two groups and numerous police officers converged on the incident to break it up and make arrests.
What happened next, as Adams put it, was a “misuse of force against a teenager who was not involved in the fight.”
The video shows the teen, identified as Benjamin Marshal, 15, also a student at Science Skills High, being punched by a yet unidentified officer as the teen was walking by police officers on top of one youth who had been in the fight.
In the next moment, the officer can be seen punching Marshal repeatedly in the face until he and other officers brought him to the ground to make an arrest.
Adams was accompanied Monday by friends of Marshal, who also condemned the officer’s actions.
“All he was trying to do was go to the other side,” said Elisebea Core, a 14-year-old freshman. “And he was punched and he was stomped for what? He wasn’t fighting. I was standing on the staircase that he was trying to go to. He wasn’t in the brawl – he didn’t have any weapons on him and he didn’t say anything to them. For him to be stopped there is no reason in my mind why they would do that. You hear about something like this, but to see it is really crazy.”
Core said she uses the train every day to go to school, but “I don’t know whether I’m going to get stopped or my friends are going to get stopped.”
“I don’t want my friends to get hurt – we are all just kids,” she added. “And they see our skin color and they automatically think we are doing something wrong.”
Adams called on the NYPD to investigate and place the officer on modified duty.
“I’m truly concerned about what I saw on that video and I’m glad that the district attorney is going to look at it,” Adams said who was himself an NYPD captain in the transit police. “You cannot openly punch a young person in the face merely because you are caught up in the aggression of the moment.”
A spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez confirmed that their office is reviewing the incident.
Adams said the other students who were there were “traumatized” by the incident. While the other officers seemed to be doing their job to quell the melee, he noted, the officer at the center of the controversy “punched the teen for apparently no reason.”
Numerous other students were present at this press conference and condemned the actions of the officer.
However, Marshal, identified as the teen who was punched, didn’t show because he apparently was meeting with an attorney to discuss the charges against him and any civil action they may take.
“We tend to believe that because black and brown young people live in communities where violence exists that they are used to violence – no they are not,” Adams said. “They are traumatized by the encounters that they witness and they are traumatized by the violence in their communities.”
DeQueen Roberts, 15, a student at Science Skills High, said she and her fellow students are “appalled to think about their fellow students getting wrongly assaulted and arrested by NYPD.”
“It was a brawl between two groups, and while trying to get the situation under control, one officer abused his power and not only wrongfully arrested an African-American teenager that had nothing to do with what was occurring, but he also punched him in his face,” Roberts said. “We are not blaming all officers for what occurred, but we are tremendously upset about the officer who handled the situation in an uncivilized manner and attacked the teenager and we are furious that the two supervisors allowed the officer to continue to harass and attack the teenager.”
Adams said most teens “don’t know their rights” when stopped by the police and don’t understand how to handle interaction with the police.
In response to this incident and others that have occurred in the past, Adams is hosting a “know your rights training for young people.” The event will occur on Tuesday, October 29, 4:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough hall at 209 Joralemon Street.
Adams spokesman Stefan Ringel said the borough president had conducted such forums when he was with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. If successful, Ringel indicated, it may become part of a series designed to educate students and teenagers on how to properly deal with police encounters and not to escalate incidents.
The Governor’s office, meanwhile, supported Adams’ call for an investigation. In a statement, Peter Ajemian, a spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo, said, “The incidents captured by video over the weekend are very disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated.”
The NYPD office of public information issued a statement at 8:48 p.m. that reads as follows:
On Friday, October 25, 2015, there was a large fight between two groups in the vicinity of Jay Street in the 84 Precinct. The fight spilled into the nearby transit station, where several youths continued to fight and resist arrest, with one of them punching an officer. Officers arrested five individuals, including three 18-year-olds charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct, a 16 year-old female was charged with reckless endangerment and a 15-year-old charged with assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct. We have determined that while the review of this incident is ongoing, the officer observed punching a male will be placed in a non-enforcement assignment. Importantly, in any situation — and particularly on subway platforms which are inherently dangerous places because of proximity to the tracks and moving trains— for the safety of all New Yorkers, people must not interfere with police activity, and comply with police directives.