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NYPD says person in custody after water-dousing incidents

Posted: 10:15 PM, Jul 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-23 22:15:31-04

One person is in custody after on-duty New York police officers were recently doused with buckets of water, a senior Police Department official told CNN on Tuesday.

The official said the man in custody is one of those seen in cell phone video of an incident that sparked outrage among law enforcement. Charges are still pending, according to the official.

Videos of two different water-throwing incidents that occurred during the city's recent heat wave circulated widely on social media.

In one of the videos, officers in the Harlem section of Manhattan on Sunday are seen handcuffing a man on the hood of a sedan while about five other men circle the group.

The men toss water on the arresting officers from buckets. At one point, a shirtless man behind the officers winds up and throws an empty red bucket. After it bounces off the head of the officer closest to the camera, the crowd jeers.

The NYPD issued a release Tuesday evening saying the officer who was hit with the bucket "suffered pain and swelling to the back of his head."

The release asks for the public's help identifying three men wanted for questioning in connection to the Harlem incident, which occurred Sunday.

In a second video, two officers, already visibly wet, are seen walking away from a conversation with individuals who are obscured by a parked car in Brooklyn. Splashes of water follow them from off camera as laughter is heard in the background.

As they cross the street, a young man runs up and pours an entire bucket of water on one officer. The two policemen never break stride.

Behind the camera, a woman can be heard laughing and saying, "Oh [the police] came over to talk to them and they violated, they violated them."

"Look," she says later, "They're laughing at them!"

The video, posted to Instagram, had over 20,000 views on Tuesday. It isn't clear what day the Brooklyn incident occurred.

'That ain't all right'

Speaking at an NYPD awards ceremony Tuesday morning, Chief of Department Terence Monahan addressed the altercations.

The officers in Harlem were responding to reports of a disorderly group when they saw someone they recognized with an outstanding warrant, Monahan told his fellow officers. As chief of department, Monahan supervises uniformed patrol commanders and is the NYPD's highest-ranked uniformed member.

"As they're making that arrest, there are a couple of guys who thought it was all right to throw water and a bucket at the cops," he said. "Well, that ain't all right."

The officers called for backup and the group scattered, Monahan said.

In the Brooklyn incident, the officers were walking away from a call when they were attacked with water, Monahan said. He then criticized the officer, who continued walking away after being doused.

"Any cop who thinks that that's all right, that they can walk away from something like that, maybe should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them," he said to applause. "We don't take that."

A senior NYPD official told CNN the police involved in the videos "should have taken action and they'll be reprimanded for not doing so."

In an internal memo obtained by CNN, the department outlined how officers should react when involved in incidents, such as being doused with water while on duty.

According to the memo, the charges applicable when an officer is doused or sprayed with water are obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, criminal tampering in the third degree, harassment in the second degree and disorderly conduct.

It says if an officer is injured from spraying they can charge the individual with "assault in the second degree."

The memo also states that police officers, while expected to endure a higher level of offensive language, are not expected to tolerate conduct that may cause risk of injury to themselves or the public, or that interferes with their duties.

'Completely unacceptable'

Tweeting on Monday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio called attacks on officers "completely unacceptable."

"The NYPD kept New Yorkers safe through the heatwave and last night's outages," he wrote. "We won't tolerate this kind of disrespect."

He identified the first video as taking place in the 28th Precinct in the Harlem section of Manhattan and said the department is investigating.

Speaking with CNN affiliate Spectrum News NY1, de Blasio said the actions could be considered criminal.

"It's not acceptable for anyone to resist arrest, it's not acceptable for anyone to interfere with the NYPD when they're effectuating an arrest," he said. "Throwing things at an NYPD officer is not only not acceptable, it can lead to charges."

The New York City Police Benevolent Association, for its part, has placed blame for the incident squarely on politicians.

"The NYPD is now frozen," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back."

"As police officers we need to draw a line," he continued. "In situations like this, we need to take action to protect ourselves and the public."