A NYC police officer has been stripped of his gun and badge after violently wrestling a man to the ground and pointing a stun gun at him over an alleged social distancing violation.
In the video, the police officer, who was not wearing a face mask, slaps 33-year-old Donni Wright in the face and then punches him in the shoulder. He continues to drag him to a sidewalk. The incident occurred in Manhattan’s East Village, along Avenue D and East 9th Street.
Watch the video below.
Mayor Bill De Blasio Has Commented on the Altercation
Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on the altercation on Twitter. He wrote, “Saw the video from the Lower East Side and was really disturbed by it. The officer involved has been placed on modified duty and an investigation has begun. The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable.”
Reports indicate that when the officer approached the group that Wright was with, they refused to disperse.
A Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson tells USA Today, that the charges have been deferred pending further investigation.
Carolyn Martinez-Class, of the police watchdog Communities United for Police Reform, said: “This incident illustrates why public health professions and community partners should be responsible for social distancing education and creating norms — not police.”
Along with Wright, Shakiem Brunson, 31, and Ashley Serrano, 22, were also charged with resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, criminal possession of a weapon and disorderly conduct, according to the NNYPD.
When Councilwoman Carlina River watched the video, NBC New York quotes her as saying, “Regardless of what transpired before the video, what is the justification for the rage? Where’s the professionalism and de-escalation tactics we should expect?”
The Officer Has Been Identified as Francisco Garcia
Multiple outlets, including the New York Post, have identified the officer involved as Officer Francisco Garcia.
On Sunday, a Change.org petition to have Garcia fired began circulating.
The description section of the petition reads, “its time we stop just being mad, hurt, and disgusted to being men & women of action. Our next assignment is to show the Nypd we will no longer just talk but hold them accountable every single time! Officer Garcia does not belong in the Nypd. People that treat others such as this do not deserve the privilege to protect & serve.” After 12 hours, the petition had 80 signatures.
Donni Wright works as a groundskeeper for the New York Housing Authority. Writer and civil rights activist Shaun King, who has been following the case closely, wrote on Sunday evening that all charges against Donni Wright were dropped.
The incident has raised questions regarding New York City’s social distancing guidelines and the NYPD’s use of force in enforcing those guidelines.
Over the weekend, 1,000 NYC officers were assigned to social distancing patrols. In total on Saturday, 51 summonses were issued, according to the Associated Press.
Jennvine Wong, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project, tells AP News, “This certainly isn’t the first time and this isn’t even the first time in this pandemic that we’ve seen evidence of discriminatory policing by the NYPD.”