The New York Police Department has released body camera footage of the arrest of a Black man who was left unconscious after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. The chokehold lasted for several seconds and took place at the same time that three other officers were holding the man down and keeping one of his arms behind his back.
The arrest occurred in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Brooklyn and is the latest in a string of use-of-force incidents that have put the NYPD under scrutiny.
A 29-second video of the incident posted on Twitter appeared to show the officer holding the man in a chokehold for several seconds until another officer taps him on the shoulder and he releases it; by that time, the man on the ground appears to be unconscious.
According to the NYPD, the incident happened in the 100th Precinct on Sunday, June 21, and they released 35 minutes of body camera footage that shows what led to the man being pinned by officers and what happened afterward.
City Council candidate Anthony Beckford has already called for the officer in the video to be fired and charged. Beckford identified the officer as David Afanador.
The officer who put the man in the chokehold has since been suspended without pay, according to a tweet from NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.
We are committed to transparency as this process continues.
— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) June 21, 2020
Police Spoke With Two Other People First
At the beginning of the video, the footage shows officers arrive at a scene where at least four other officers are standing and having a conversation with someone wearing a black sleeveless undershirt.
“They came up to me to ask me to stop what I was doing,” he says.
When police ask if he knows a particular person, he says no. When they ask him where he lives, he begins to get agitated and asks why they have to ask questions like that.
“I live right here. You don’t have to ask me that question,” he says before he eventually says, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore, man.”
The police seem to move past the first man and onto a second, shirtless man, who is pacing and says that he has gone live on social media. Both the first and second men appear to be white.
One of the officers tells the man, “Stop moving,” to which the man, who is shirtless and wearing khaki pants, says, “Yeah, put those gloves on so there will be no forensics when you try to kill me, right? Yeah, get those gloves on.”
One of the officers seems to remember the man from an earlier encounter. He says, “He was out here the other day, he was the guy, the brother, he was the brother from the 39 (unintelligible). Remember he backed us? He was throwing the bottles or whatever. That’s him.”
“Have a good day,” one of the officers calls out to the three men, one of whom is wearing a Brooklyn jersey (he later identifies himself as Ricky Bellevue) and will end up on the concrete.
As they stand back swearing at police, one of the officers says, “Aw man, this is fun.” An officer also says, “You know you’re all on video, right?”
Soon after that statement, the shirtless man demands to know why the police are standing there “in military formation.” At the same time, an argument appears to break out between the man in the black shirt and someone off-screen.
Police Took Bellevue Down After Another Man in the Video Pushed Him
Officer Afanador, Badge # 31730 of the @NYPD100Pct @NYPDnews at Far Rockaway Beach performing an Illegal modern day lynching chokehold on a Black Man until he was unconscious. I demand his immediate firing & criminal charges for breaking the city & state ban. #DefundThePolice pic.twitter.com/wtAmYWxIbE
— Anthony Beckford (City Council Candidate)🌹 (@Vote4Beckford) June 21, 2020
The white man in the black shirt repeatedly shouts at someone who is out of the frame, “F**k you, you f**king f****t,” before marching in a direction off-camera. He turns to Bellevue and tells him, “If you’re with him, you’re on your own,” repeating the phrase, “you’re on your own,” several times.
“I hate my own kind and this is why,” he says, turning to the police. “Why are you discriminating?” At one point, Bellevue gets close to the man in the black shirt and points at the police, uttering profanities before walking away. The man in the black shirt responds by saying, “I’ll f**k you up.”
At roughly 11 minutes in, the man in the black shirt responds to hearing the word “stoner” and says, “Where? Where? Give me a breathalyzer.”
He then turns to Bellevue, who is standing on his left, and pushes his left shoulder, saying, “Yo, n***a, what the f**k?” It’s unclear what precipitated the comment, although Bellevue had been asking officers, “You scared? You scared?”
Immediately after the other man touches Bellevue, Bellevue is taken down by several officers and the body camera appears to fall to the ground. From the vantage point of the body camera, three officers are on Bellevue and another is out of the frame.
Video taking by one of the men involved in the incident clearly shows three officers on top of Bellevue with a fourth holding him in a chokehold.
The shirtless man streaming live says, “Yo, stop choking him, bro!” and yells, “Let him go!” Officers demand bystanders back up before the officer releases Bellevue from the chokehold.
Bellevue Tells Officers ‘My Whole Body Hurt’
Once he is released, the man on the ground appears limp and when officers turn him on his side, he appears stiff; he is eventually pulled to his feet and walked to an ambulance. On the way, he tells officers, “My body hurt.”
He also refuses to step up to the back of the ambulance, telling officers, “Naw, I ain’t stepping nowhere.”
He sits while telling officers repeatedly, “Don’t touch me.” Then, he says, “Man, my whole body hurt, I’m asthmatic, bro.”
He later says, “I’m bleeding,” and when someone asks if they can listen to his lungs, he says no and instead insists that he wants his twin with him.
“Yo, get the f**k from me,” he says.
Police and the man continue to go back and forth as he is sitting on the back of the ambulance.
“No, I don’t want to hear from you, sir,” he said before saying that he wants his brother to check his arm and his leg.
“If they have you in the cuffs, I can’t have him look at you, I’m sorry,” someone says. “Why? What did I do to get put in cuffs?” he asks.
He also argues with officers about whether or not he is bipolar. “No, I’m not bipolar,” he tells officers.
Later, he says, “Yeah, I’m bipolar. I tell you I’m bipolar and you’re going to beat me up?”
After giving the officers his birthday of June 19 and telling them he has a daughter, they wish him a Happy Father’s Day.
He also threatens officers, telling them, “I’m going to let my brother kill you,” and he says, “I’m gonna sue all y’all, I want all y’all badge numbers.”
Woman Asks Why Officers Took Bellevue Down & Not the Other Two
A woman who had been observing the scene questioned officers, and Afanador asks to speak to her, person-to-person: “They were all acting crazy. They’re all obviously intoxicated. We know he has a mental history past, we know he’s bipolar. They were all talking all kinds of crazy stuff to us.”
She also asked officers why Bellevue was taken down and not the other two. Afanador tells her that he saw Bellevue pick up something and square off. “What changed everything is when he grabbed something and squared up … the minute I saw him flex on him, that’s when he goes down.”
He then tells her that Bellevue is going to the hospital.