The family of a Brooklyn man who was seen on video being wrestled to the ground and arrested last week for allegedly smoking a marijuana joint met with officials from the mayor’s office across the street from City Hall on Tuesday to call for an investigation of the incident.
The group, led by Rev. Kevin McCall, met with a group from the mayor’s office led by Marco A. Carrion, commissioner for the mayor’s community affairs unit. Rev. McCall said they were seeking an investigation of the incident by the mayor’s office, and to place officers involved on “modified duty,” as the probe continues.
McCall said they are also seeking to reduce “stop and frisk” which they say increased last year to 33,000 stops, “despite the mayor making campaign promises to reduce the numbers.”
His attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, was barred from the meeting, they said.
McCall said they discussed policy issues that led to the arrest of 20-year-old Fitzroy Gayle of Canarsie, Brooklyn, who was eventually charged with obstruction governmental administration, possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. McCall said the stop for the alleged marijuana was an excuse to do a stop-and-frisk — the small amount of marijuana is no longer prosecuted by Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez.
The dramatic mobile phone video shows at least a half-dozen Brooklyn police officers from the 69th Precinct tackle Gayle who was merely asking what he was being arrested for. The March 6 incident quickly escalated as officers converged on Gayle and took him to the ground.
Video of the incident, which took place about 10 p.m. outside a Canarsie playground, was posted on Twitter Thursday by a passerby — and retweeted more than 155,000 times since it was posted.
I’m walking home from work and this undercover cop was holding this man. The guy asked for the cop to identify himself, he ignore that. He asked what crime he commit, he ignore that too. I pulled out my phone. You can hear the guy screaming “I never thought it would happen to me” pic.twitter.com/YW2dI3g8fk
— Velvet (@TheVelvetRope__) March 5, 2020
Gayle is heard speaking to the plain clothed officer wearing sweatpants and black hoodie — holding his hands up with his phone in his right hand.
“Yo, what crime did I commit?” Gayle can be heard saying. “You’re trying to hurt me? You’re trying to hurt me? What did I do?”
“Don’t move,” the officer replies. “Why would I want to hurt you?”
“You’d like to shoot me?” Gayle asks at one point as the cop appears to point a taser at him. “I don’t have a crime. Listen to me, what crime did I commit? You’re not supposed to do that. That’s the law.”
“Stop moving!” the officer replies.
Then, at least six police officers converge on the scene and jump on Gayle, who can be heard saying “I did not commit a crime,” before he’s taken down.
“Help me. Oh my God,” he then screams. “I am not resisting. I’ve never been arrested a day in my life.”
Bystanders and the woman recording the video can be heard questioning the officers’ actions.
“We met with the mayor’s higher ups and we called for an immediate investigation by mayor’s office and to put every officer involved on modified duty,” McCall said. “He had his hands up and didn’t have a weapon. It shouldn’t take a week after as millions view the video of police assault and kidnapping of him.”
Police officials have said plainclothes cops saw the man and another suspect smoking a marijuana cigarette in a playground on Glenwood Road East 100th Street, but then the two ran off and were caught nearby.
Commissioner Dermot Shea noted at last Thursday’s press conference that officers were on alert because of a recent report of a shooting nearby. He said the case was under review, but he added, “The end is what concerns me. I’d love to have a different outcome.”
“The summons for marijuana was a waste of time and is not considered a crime,” Rubenstein said. “They acknowledge that he had his hands up and was asking ‘what’s wrong.’ Instead, he was thrown to the ground and stomped on by 6-7 cops.”
Rubenstein pointed out that Mayor de Blasio ran on a platform to eliminate “stop and frisk.”
“Yet in 2019 the administration had an increase in stop and frisk to 33,000 even though he had a campaign promise to stop this,” Rubenstein said. “I’m not surprised that the mayor didn’t want me at this meeting.”
Gayle’s mother Daphne said she was concerned that an arrest would impact his future ability to get a good job and support a family.
“We want to clear his name so that it doesn’t effect his future employment especially since he did nothing criminal,” she said. “I don’t know why they did what they did to him.”
His sister Tina Reed said she was grateful that “he is alive” after the incident in which he was held in the precinct for nearly 14 hours, they said.
“When I watched the video, my guts were on the ground and now, I don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” she said. “He’s a good person — works two jobs and goes to school. He knows his rights. There was not reason for the 6-7 cops to attack him.”
Rubenstein said Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez no longer prosecutes for possession of marijuana. He said they will be in court on April 24 with Gayle to defend against the charges.
In the meantime, the family and Rubenstein plan to meet with the district attorney on Wednesday to discuss dropping the charges and announcement will be made after the meeting.