NEW YORK (PIX11) -- The fatal arrest, recorded on video, of Eric Garner on Staten Island on suspicion of a minor crime has brought new attention to video recorded of another NYPD arrest using some of the same, banned tactics, just days before Garner's fateful detainment.
In the other incident, which was not fatal, at least two videos were posted to Facebook. They show two officers taking down a young man in the 125th Street subway station on the 4,5,6 train lines on July 14th. One of the officers punches the arrestee multiple times in the head, including at least once in the face, leaving blood on the floor, as the arrestee resists.
The officer is also seen putting the arrestee in a choke hold, a procedure banned by the NYPD in 1993.
"I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it," said Rev. Kelmy Rodriquez. The East Harlem community activist said that he'd received a copy of video of the arrest from an anonymous emailer who had heard of Rodriquez's ministry and thought the minister could help the arrestee in some way.
Rodriquez posted the video on Facebook in the hope of finding witnesses to the incident, who might be able to help the community leader file a complaint, and otherwise pursue disciplinary action against the officer.
Since the videos were posted, they've had thousands of views each on Facebook, where Rodriquez and at least one eyewitness to the 3:00 PM arrest a week ago Monday placed their video for viewing.
One eyewitness, Rodriquez told PIX11 News, has since contacted him to describe the process that had led cops to take this man into custody, and had led one of the officers to punch the man and put him in the choke hold. According to Rodriquez, the eyewitness told him that the man had been detained for fare jumping at the subway stop. "The officer instructed [the arrestee] to turn around, the arrestee did not comply."
The man seemed to be emotionally disturbed, clinically, Rodriquez said the eyewitness had told him. "[The arrestee] put his hand in front of [the officer's] face and that's where this ensued."
However, in contrast to the case of Eric Garner, bystanders in the subway arrest video tell the man under arrest to stop putting up a fight. "Stop resisting, so they don't hit you," one bystander shouts at the arrestee. "Youngblood," another bystander shouts, "It's over."
One video of the takedown that's been posted, Rodriquez said, looks like the arrestee is resisting. However, he said, the video he'd been sent contrasts with that. It indicates, the community activist said, that while the officer tells the arrestee to put his hands behind his back, the officer has one of the arrestee's hands pinned. "That's kind of questionable," Rodriquez said.
The incident elicited a comment from State Senator Bill Perkins, (D) Upper Manhattan, whose district includes the subway stop where the incident took place. Perkins said in an interview that he supports Mayor Bill de Blasio, and trusts him to take action.
"I'm hopeful that he'll expeditiously make the difference," Sen. Perkins said, "so the choke hold is eliminated, and that we address what's behind the choke hold, and that's racism."
PIX11 News requested comment from the NYPD on this story and on the arrest video, but currently we have received no response.
Both the subway arrest and Eric Garner's arrest were for minor crimes, fare jumping and suspicion of selling loose cigarettes, respectively. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has made clear that he and his department are emphasizing a pursuit of minor, quality of life crimes.
Whether or not the arrests of Eric Garner and the unidentified man on the subway indicate that that pursuit is being carried out too aggressively can only be addressed by the commissioner or other representatives of his department. Again, at this point, the NYPD has made no response.