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Community protests after national guardsman says police used Taser on him with no explanation

FORDHAM HEIGHTS, the Bronx — He’s a national guardsman from a law enforcement family, whose members say he has nothing but respect for the police. So when he was pulled over and police used a Taser on him, according to his complaint, it was a shock and an injustice both to him and the community. Now, the community is rallying behind Calvin Moreland, 27, and calling for at least one officer from their local precinct to be taken off the streets.

A protest outside of the 46th Precinct Friday morning was the latest development following the encounter Moreland had with police on May 15.

According to Moreland, he was driving his pickup on Montgomery Avenue around 3:30 p.m. when he saw an NYPD cruiser in his rear view mirror, with lights and siren on.

He pulled over, he said, and waved the police cruiser to pass him, in order for it to get to its emergency. When the police car didn't pass, Moreland said, he pulled onto a side street, Popham Avenue.

He said that by pulling aside, he was showing respect to ensure that police could proceed to do their job.

“I come from a law enforcement family,” Moreland said at a news conference and protest in front of the precinct Friday. “I have two years as a peace officer at hospital police at Bellevue Hospital,” he continued, “I’m in the military, I know my rights. I exercise my rights, and they were violated.”

Once he’d pulled onto the side street, he said an officer who Moreland identified as Jefferson Martinez, moved his car behind him and asked for his license and registration.

Moreland said that he’d tried to explain that he was attempting to be helpful, but that the officer was hearing none of it.

“Told this gentleman to get out of the car,” said Rev. Kevin McCall, leader of the National Action Network, as he gestured to Moreland at the news conference.

“Before he could undo the seatbelt,” McCall continued, “he get tased.”

Moreland continued the story. “He asked me did I want another round of tasing after he tased me."

Officer Martinez and his patrol partner then took Moreland to the precinct, under arrest. Moreland said that while in custody, he tried calling his father, a retired NYPD officer, and eventually reached his aunt, who is also an NYPD veteran.

She spoke at Friday’s protest:

“To have a bad apple like this representing the men in blue,” Moreland’s aunt, Beverly Smith, said, “is horrible.”

“The police department,” she continued, “needs to step up and get these overzealous officers out of this community.”

In the community, quite a few people know Moreland, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for half a century.

“For that to happen to a guy like him,” said neighbor and friend Yao Akenten, “[someone who’s] very respectful, and has family in law enforcement, is kind of a travesty, to be honest with you.”

However, said Moreland’s friend, the incident was regrettable, but not necessarily unusual.

“That's what happens in these neighborhoods on a daily basis,” Akenten said, “getting pulled over like you've already committed an offense. It's not surprising.”

For his part, Moreland said that the whole situation left him disappointed, but resolute.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to get justice,” he said.

He and the National Action Network called on the NYPD to place Ofcr. Martinez on modified duty while the civilian complaint that Moreland has filed with the city works its way through the review process.

They also said that Moreland intends to file a lawsuit against the city over the incident.

He was charged with resisting arrest, but a judge dismissed the case.

The NYPD has not responded at this time to a request for comment.