Community leaders are expressing concern, and the NYPD is investigating, after a Boro Park senior citizen was bruised Sunday night during an arrest by police officers, who initially approached his vehicle to give him a ticket for using a cellphone.
The 71-year-old man says that he had already pulled his vehicle to the side of the road to take the call, at the corner of 18th Avenue and 53rd Street around 8:00 p.m. Sunday, when he was approached by police.
The man, whose does not speak English well, said that one male officer and one female officer of the 66th Precinct approached each of his windows and shined a flashlight at him, demanding his license and registration. He tried explaining as best he could to the male officer, Officer Singh, that he could not look into the glove compartment for his registration as the female officer’s flashlight was shining right in his face. He said that Officer Singh then dragged him out of the car and shoved him to the ground, and the officers tried handcuffing him. The officers told him to put his hand behind his back, but he tried explaining to them that he was unable to put one hand behind his back because the arm had previously been injured in an accident.
Video taken by a bystander and tweeted by New York City Councilman David Greenfield shows the man on the ground, moaning loudly as the officers tell him to put his hands behind his back, before crying out, “I had an accident!”
The man was arrested and issued summonses for driving while using a cellphone and disorderly conduct.
Upon his release, he returned to make a complaint at the stationhouse, whereupon he was told that a community leader was aware of and investigating the matter.
The man was later treated at Maimonides Hospital, where he was visited by Greenfield, Rabbi Yanky Meyer of Misaskim, and Community Board 12 Chair Yidel Perlstein. He had bruises on the left side of his face, and on both his arms from wrist to shoulder.
A family member told Hamodia on Tuesday evening that the man is suffering terrible headaches, extremely traumatized, and unable to sleep.
According to the NYPD report on the incident, the man refused officers’ orders to produce identification and refused the officers’ subsequent orders to exit the vehicle, NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie told Hamodia. After the repeated refusal to follow orders, said the report, “minimal force was used to remove him from the vehicle.”
Immediately following the incident, the officers notified their supervisor, per usual NYPD protocol when force is used, said Sgt. McRorie. The investigation has now been referred to the NYPD Brooklyn-South Investigations Unit.
There are no dashcams on NYPD patrol vehicles, and the 66th Precinct is not part of the NYPD’s bodycam pilot program.
“It’s disconcerting to see a 71-year-old grandfather sitting in the emergency room with bruises all over his face and body after his interaction with local police,” Greenfield said after returning from Maimonides at 1:00 a.m. Monday. “The bedrock of policing in New York City is courtesy, professionalism and respect. The NYPD must investigate to ensure that these standards have been adhered to.”
“At the end of the day, when you are dealing with a 71-year-old man, a little common sense should prevail,” said Rabbi Meyer. “No police academy will train you to do this to a senior citizen.”
“Just looking at this Boro Parker, you can see that he is not a threat,” said Perlstein. “This could have been anybody’s grandfather. That’s why this is so disturbing.”
“The bottom line is that, while we are not jumping to any conclusions, we need an immediate and thorough investigation,” said Greenfield. “I appreciate that the NYPD met us in the hospital to take a report, and I expect a full, fair and transparent investigation.”