Police Commissioner Dermot Shea media briefing ahead of scheduled protest in NYC at City Hall. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images
A New York City police officer was suspended without pay Sunday after he was captured on video appearing to put a Black man in a chokehold.
The New York City Council recently passed a measure imposing criminal penalties on officers who use the banned maneuver. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea called the incident “disturbing” and said “immediate action” was necessary while authorities investigate.
Cellphone video shows several officers restraining the man on his stomach, and one of the officers appears to have his arm wrapped around the man’s neck.
“Stop choking him,” a bystander can be heard shouting at the officers.
A police spokesperson said the man was in good condition. He was taken into custody, but it wasn’t immediately clear what he had been arrested for. Neither the man nor the officer have been identified.
Body camera video from the incident, which occurred in the Rockaway section of Queens, shows three men arguing with police before the apparent chokehold is used. One of them can be seen approaching the officers and saying, “You scared?” before one of the officers appears to tackle the man.
A law enforcement source said the incident occurred after a 911 report that three men were harassing people and throwing objects at them. The officers tried to detain the man after he approached them with a bag, the source said.
The City Council passed an anti-chokehold law Thursday to criminalize the use of the maneuver, which the police department banned in 1993, NBC New York reported. The measure adds to a state law signed this month that requires that officers be criminally charged if a chokehold results in injury or death.
That bill was named for Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was killed July 17, 2014, as he was being arrested for selling loose cigarettes. In a video of Garner’s arrest, Officer Daniel Pantaleo can be seen putting Garner in a chokehold while he repeatedly says he can’t breathe.
New York City’s law requires that officers be charged with a misdemeanor regardless of whether there’s an injury, NBC New York reported.
Sunday’s incident occurred amid heightened tensions between police and protesters after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. In demonstrations across the county that followed, protesters have demanded racial justice and systemic police reform.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office is investigating claims that NYPD officers used overly aggressive tactics during those protests. She said her office received testimony from hundreds of people who described being injured or suffering trauma after officers used batons, tear gas and pepper spray.
Shea, the police commissioner, is scheduled to address the department’s handling of those protests on Monday, James said.
— NBC News’ Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter contributed.