WARNING: This video contains graphic language.
In the past few days, a video showing the arrest of three young African American suspects on East Broadway Monday afternoon went viral. It was shot by a woman named Sara Doneghy, who noted on social media:
This happened today on my way to the post office. The kids were 12. They had supposedly pushed one of their classmates down. However when the victim was asked, he said those weren’t the guys. They were still taken away.
Early in the tape, a plainclothes officer runs over to the location where uniformed officers are attempting to handcuff one of three young men and punches the suspect several times. Onlookers can be heard strongly criticizing the cops for their actions. While the video has been making the rounds on various websites, it wasn’t picked up by mainstream media until today. This morning, the New York Post reports that the NYPD’s internal affairs division is investigating the incident.
A few moments ago, we spoke with police about the events that transpired on Monday. They say that the suspects were not 12 years old. One is 16, while the other two are 17 years old. Cops indicate they were involved in a gang initiation rite on Madison Street across from the Rutgers public housing development.
The suspects are accused of hitting a bystander, a man in his early 20’s, over the head with a cane. Uniformed cops caught up with the suspects on East Broadway, just west of Clinton Street, a few moments later. They say one of the teens resisted arrest. The plainclothes officer, they tell us, stepped in as other cops struggled to cuff the suspect. The teen, they say, was not injured during the arrest. All three have been charged with felony gang assault.
The victim, who lives in Connecticut, required medical attention. The police report stated that he sustained “serious physical injuries.”
The 7th Precinct called Internal Affairs following the incident. That’s standard procedure any time physical force is used during an arrest.
UPDATED 4:45 p.m. The NYPD has suspended the officer seen punching the teen in the video. The suspect has been identified as 16-year-old Denzel Funderburk. In addition to the gang assault charge, he was also charged with obstruction and criminal possession of a weapon.
UPDATED 6:54 p.m. City Council member Margaret Chin released a statement this evening regarding the East Broadway incident:
Upon seeing this video, I was very disturbed by what appears to be an excessive use of force by a plainclothes police officer. My staff reached out to the NYPD in order to confirm the details reported in the media about this incident, which took place in my district this past Monday. I commend the NYPD for taking swift action to suspend the plainclothes officer shown in the video, as well as beginning an internal investigation into his actions during the incident. I also want to make it clear that it is apparent to me that the uniformed officers shown in the video were correctly protecting and serving the public by taking the proper steps in responding to a 911 call and arresting suspects. Regarding the actions of the plainclothes officer and the NYPD internal investigation into his actions, my staff and I will be following the case very closely.
UPDATED 12/20 11 a.m. Police Commissioner William Bratton said yesterday, “An individual ended up hospitalized as a result of a beating that he may have received at the hands of three or four young men and during the effort to arrest one of the men thought to be involved in the incident an individual that we have identified as one of our plain clothed officers runs up and appears to strike the (teen) with a closed fist twice in the side of the body.” He added, ““That officer has been suspended pending the investigation going forward.” The officer has been identified as John McDevit of the 7th Precinct’s anti-crime unit. The victim suffered a broken jaw. Late last night the Post reported:
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute and a spokeswoman declined to say why. However, the decision was made days before the video became public and had nothing to do with the officer’s actions, sources said.