Video shows homeless woman forcefully handcuffed in subway station, police say she was in need of evaluation

Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 18:23:35-05

Warning: Video and audio may be disturbing.

JAMAICA, Queens — “It’s not right! Let her go!”

Video posted to Twitter Friday shows a homeless woman being handcuffed on the floor of a subway station in Queens.

A passerby at the Jamaica Center – Parsons/Archer Station stopped to take videos of the incident, an incident that he said wasn’t right, and that it wasn’t the help the woman needed.

In the video, in which the man shouts “let her go,” another person, who says they’re a mental health professional, can be heard explaining that the woman was not being arrested, and that she was being taken to get help.

The video shows the woman struggling on the ground as she is handcuffed.

In a later tweet, the man said another mental health professional was on the scene, heard in the video explaining again that the woman needed help. The man taking the video, Narvin Singh, said it doesn’t look like help.

A police spokesperson told PIX11 News that uniformed officers from the Homeless Outreach Unit, officials from NYC Health and Hospitals, the Department of Homeless Services and the Bowery Residence Committee were at the station.

The officers observed the woman, who is known to the Department of Homeless Services and the Bowery Residence Committee, police said.

Doctors on scene evaluated the woman and “determined that she was in need of evaluation in accordance with NYS Mental Hygiene law 9.58,” according to police spokesperson Sgt. Jessica McRorie.

That law allows mental health professionals to coordinate the removal of someone to the hospital who appears to be mentally ill and is acting in a way that could be harmful to themselves or others.

“When the individual attempted to leave, she was taken into custody at the direction of the mental health clinician on scene. She was transported to an area hospital for evaluation,” McRorie said.

“This video depicts collaboration between police officers and health care professionals, and shows the challenges they face every day,” she added.

Dr. Mitch Katz, who runs NYC Health and Hospitals, assured New Yorkers that the woman was not arrested.

“However, in clinical circumstances, where someone’s mental illness is severe, the right thing to do is to bring them to a hospital so they can be appropriately evaluated and cared for,” he said in a tweet.

Singh, who posted the original video, tweeted later that he was “truly disgusted” by Katz’s statement, and that the incident “certainly wasn’t what that woman deserved.”

Aliza Chazan contributed.