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Manhattan brutality incident caught on video was a marijuana-related arrest

The NYPD is investigating an alleged police brutality incident on May 2, 2020 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. (Photo via Twitter/@JBlascoNYC)

Cops on the Lower East Side are under investigation — with one already on modified duty — after an incident of multiple plainclothes officers taking down one suspect before another bystander was beaten while getting too close to the situation.

According to NYPD, the officers were enforcing social distancing measures at Avenue D and East 9 Street when one spotted an alleged bag of marijuana and scuffle ensued. The video footage surfaced Saturday on Twitter that depicted the incident, which Commissioner Dermot Shea addressed at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Sunday press briefing.

According to Shea, one officer is on modified duty while the behavior of the officers who were in the process of making three arrests is being investigated.

“I am aware of the video that’s out there, it’s being investigated by our Internal Affairs Bureau. As a result of that very preliminary investigation that’s ongoing, there was one officer modified and that’s where we stand now,” Shea said. 

Also notable about the video is the officer’s lack of face masks; one cop is shown wearing a mask below the nose.

The event went down at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday which NYPD said was because the suspect became aggressive and resisted arrest. The second man who was attempting to intervene took a fighting stance, according to cops.

The first video depicts an officer breaking away from a scuffle between several other officers and a suspect. He moves toward the bystander moving too close, clicks his taser at him before holstering it. 

He then asks the man why he’s “flexing” and curses as he squares up to the man. Then he initiates a takedown and proceeds to punch the man in the face several times before the video comes to an end.

A second video on YouTube disseminated by the Legal Aid Society from the business shows only only a man and woman standing near each other when police approach and begin putting the two into grapple holds.

“City Hall and the NYPD need to seriously reconsider social distancing enforcement that leads to escalations involving the use of tasers and violent assaults,” Tina Luongo, of The Legal Aid Society, said. “What is equally disturbing is that some of these officers – who were ostensibly enforcing social distancing laws – were in violation of those same very laws themselves by not wearing protecting masks, endangering the lives of all New Yorkers around them. We call on the NYPD to release the names of all these officers at once and call for their immediate discipline.”

The officer who was physical with the last suspect walked about 90% of the way to the person in question before the altercation went down.

“Any incident where there’s the potential of something inappropriate unquestionably will be investigated. I don’t know any of the details of this one, it’s the first I’m hearing of it, but there will unquestionably be a careful look of what happened there,” de Blasio said.

In a Twitter response to the video, the city Civilian Complaint Review Board advised the poster to file a complaint but said that despite the footage, it would not escalate a review of the situation without someone filing a formal complaint with their office.

“I’ve contacted NYPD. We have demanded an investigation for excessive force. Regardless of what transpired before the video, what is the justification for the rage?” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, whose district covers parts of the Lower East Side and the East Village. “Where’s the professionalism and de-escalation tactics we should expect? We will hold these officers accountable.”

According to NYPD, three people were arrested and charged as follows:

Shakiem Brunson, 31, of Brooklyn charged with resisting Arrest, criminal possession of a weapon, two counts Disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of marijuana.

Ashley Serrano, 22, of Hicksville charged with resisting Arrest, criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of disorderly conduct.

Donni Wright, 33, of Manhattan, charged with assault on a police officer, menacing, resisting arrest and two counts of disorderly conduct.

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