With nothing more than his nightstick, New York Police Department Officer Syed Ali fends off an attack by half a dozen reportedly drunken men in a subway station the night before Christmas Eve.
The video posted to Twitter by user MAADY has been viewed millions of times.
“1 COP DEADASS BATTLING AGAINST AN ARMY OF CRACKHEADS,” he posted as the description. Reports indicate the men were intoxicated.
The officer was identified by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio as Ali. He’s a Muslim-American police officer and a US Army combat veteran.
Here’s what you need to know about Ali:
1. Officer Ali Was Alone When Attacked by a Small Army of Aggressive & Intoxicated Men. He Fought Back Without Using Lethal Force
As was reported by the New York Daily News,, Ali was working the F train stop at East Broadway on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as part of a “counter-terrorism ‘Omega’ post, it was reported. A woman told Ali she was being harassed by a group of men. The cop confronted them and that’s when they began their assault. Ali, telling them he does not want to hurt them, fends off their aggressive, if stumbling, advances. He does not draw a weapon save his nightstick and his right leg as he kicks them away.
One of the group of men appears passed out on the platform. Ali tells them to leave the station. They refuse. A police source was quoted by The News as saying Ali was “approached aggressively …(and) took action and gained control of the situation.”
As Ali defends himself against them he kicks and shouts repeatedly, “Step back! I don’t want to hurt you!” But one after the other, the men come at Ali who uses his baton to keep them at bay. Then, three at come at him and it appears that one man tries to stop the pack but another jumps in. Ali strikes at them and one falls onto the tracks even as Ali tried to prevent that. The News reported that Ali called the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to shut off power to the tracks, and then radioed for help.
2. Five Men Were Arrested, Hospitalized & Released After Prosecutors Declined to File Charges
Five men were arrested. Oseas Garcia, 32, Juan Munez, 27, Raul Ruiz, 29. Elisoe Alvarez Santos, 36 and Leobardo Alvarado, 31, were each charged with a municipal violation “for lying on the subway platform,” it was reported. It’s not clear if any were charged in the attack on Ali.
3. The NYPD Says Ali ‘Did a Very Good Job.’ The Police Union Criticized the Mayor & District Attorney
An NYPD official was quoted as saying Ali “handled the situation with incredible restraint using the least possible amount of force to bring it to a close. He did a very good job.”
The NYPD’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch also heaped praise upon Ali but lambasted Mayor DeBlasio and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., for not filing assault charges against the men.
Lynch told The New York Post in a statement, ““The district attorney’s job is to prosecute crimes, not to act like a social advocate. These men chose to drink to excess and then to attack a police officer like a pack of jackals when given a lawful order to move on. They should be held accountable for their actions.”
And Lynch told the Daily News, “Once again, in de Blasio’s New York, we see a police officer having to rectify a problem allowed to fester by the inaction of this administration …(officer Ali) was responding to a complaint from a woman of harassment by these homeless men at the station. He used textbook defensive measures taught in the police academy against overwhelming odds in an effort to protect himself and anyone else on the platform. He is to be commended for good work and courage.”
A spokesman for Vance told the Post the men were not arrested for attacking Ali but were arrested for sleeping on a subway platform and added that “We have not prosecuted this violation since March 2016 under a policy jointly established with the police commissioner and mayor.”
4. Ali Was Honored by New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch Who Questioned Why the Men Were Released
Ali has been widely praised for how he was able to protect a subway rider while not deploying lethal force against more than 5 attackers.
“I visited @NYPDTransit Task Force in North Brooklyn to thank Officer Syed Ali for his quick action to defend civilians and himself against five individuals attacking on a subway platform. Officer Ali showed restraint & discipline in how he de-escalated the situation.”
In response to a comment that the councilman should have addressed the fact that the men were not charged responded by saying, “They should be getting mental health treatment and placed into a shelter. Not let back on the streets.”
5. Ali is an American, a Muslim, & an US Army Combat Veteran Who Was Racially Profiled & Detained at JFK in 2017
“This is what the men and women in uniform sign up to do each day. Face the danger, no matter what type just to make sure people we serve are protected. Great work was done by our proud member who showed restraint and bravery,” the NYPD Muslim Officers Society posted.
And as an US Army reservist, he’s seen combat in Iraq. And, he’s been a detainee at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.
Ali was the victim of racial profiling. He told The New York Times that in 2017 he was held at Kennedy Airport after returning home to New York from Turkey and was threatened with arrest after querying officials about how long he would be held for additional screening.
“Syed Ali is an American citizen, an officer in the New York Police Department, a combat veteran and a major in the United States Army Reserve. But none of that made a difference at passport control last month when he arrived at Kennedy Airport on an evening flight from Istanbul,” the Times reported.
“I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali said in an interview, still sounding a little shaken. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist? Are you telling me every guy with brown skin coming in from overseas is a terrorist?”
This is a developing story.