The NYPD is internally investigating the incident.
With the sunny weekend weather in the area, hundreds of New Yorkers ventured out to their local parks in violation of the social distancing guidelines. While onlookers on social media expressed their disdain, a violent incident with the NYPD in the East Village has gone viral.
A video posted to Facebook shows plainclothes NYPD officers violently detaining three people for not following social distancing guidelines. One officer appears to punch and tase a man. Sources identified two of the suspects as 31-year-old Shakiem Brunson and 22-year-old Ashley Serrano. Onlookers insisted that the two hadn’t done anything wrong.
A YouTube channel has posted surveillance footage of the entire incident.
Daquan Owens, who posted the footage on his Facebook page, spoke with the New York Daily News about the incident. “Nothing was going on, nothing provoked the cop,” Owens said. “He just pulled his taser out.”
Many commenters noted the contrast in NYPD protocol. Over the weekend, multiple photos of white New Yorkers violating social distancing circulated. In one particular photo, an officer is handing masks to two women.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the incident on Twitter. “Saw the video from the Lower East Side and was really disturbed by it,” he wrote. “The officer has been placed on modified duty and an investigation has begun. The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable.”
The NYPD released a statement contradicting Owens’ account. Department spokesperson Sergeant Mary Frances O’Donnell claims that when officers approached the group, some members dispersed but others did not. Additionally, she claims officers found a large amount of marijuana upon investigating.