By LOUIS FLORES
A man taken into police custody on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights complained of an injured hand, and witnesses of the arrest criticized the arresting police officers for appearing to not care. The man's hands were cuffed behind his back, and his arms were stretched over a backpack. In this position, the man complained in Spanish of being in pain.
The arrest, which took place on the corner of 77th Street, happened shortly after noon on Monday, Sept. 15. Passersby gathered to witness the arrest of the man, who was laid on the street. At least two witnesses recorded a portion of the arrest using smart phones. One such video was posted on YouTube, and the video showed the unidentified man screaming, complaining in Spanish that one of his hands was injured, but the New York Police Department officers placing the man under arrest were unable to understand. The man's left elbow appeared reddish and possibly scraped, one witness said.
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio have proclaimed that they are focusing on NYPD reforms by rolling out community policing, but the police arrest of the man on Monday were unable to speak Spanish to even communicate with members of the large Spanish community in Jackson Heights. When one of the witnesses translated for police that the man claimed that he had an injury, the officers portrayed the man as uncooperative. Meanwhile, the video showed that the police officers had put the man in a impossible situation, and the man was loudly complaining about being in pain. Even though the man was in each of pain, his arms contorted behind his back over a backpack, and in handcuffs, the cops complained that the man would not stand up.
Once paramedics appeared on the scene, the man was lifted from the street by his legs and the arm with the scraped or reddened elbow, screaming, and he was placed into a stretcher. Police and paramedics began to further restrain the man.
One witness, who recorded the YouTube video of the arrest, said he saw one police officer placing his foot on the small of the man's back to hold him down before he began recording the arrest. The witness later complained that he was unable to characterize the police use of force against the man as "protect and respect," the mayor's new slogan for improving community relations.
Advocates for police reform have been complaining of an ingrained culture at the NYPD that is indifferent to using force during arrests or placing arrestees in painful or dangerous situations. The current heightened level of scrutiny of the NYPD follows the scandalous use of chokeholds that included the homicide of Eric Garner, a Staten Island dad, who died while in police custody on July 17. NYPD routinely either murder, batter, or menace innocent New Yorkers, some police reform advocates say.