As New Yorkers poured out of their homes last weekend to enjoy the arrival of spring weather, an NYPD officer was caught on film punching a black man as part of a social distancing arrest. Meanwhile, other officers were photographed handing out masks to white park-goers who were failing to sit six feet apart.
According to the New York Daily News, officers approached a group in the East Village that wasn’t following social distancing rules. Some of the group dispersed, but others didn’t, and officers found “a large amount of marijuana in open view.”
“The owner of the marijuana immediately became aggressive, according to cops and a woman with him tried to intervene in the arrest,” the paper reports. A bystander nearby was ordered by an officer identified as Francisco Garcia to back up. Instead, he reportedly “took a fighting stance,” and was subsequently pushed to the ground and hit repeatedly by Garcia, who then kneeled on his neck.
Daquan Owens, who uploaded the video of the arrest, told the Daily News that Garcia’s behavior was uncalled for.
“The guy that just got slammed to the floor and punched, he was just standing there saying, ‘They didn’t do nothing,’ and actually they didn’t do nothing.”
“Nothing was going on, nothing provoked the cop. He just got up, pulled his Taser out … The cop, I guess he was frustrated and took his frustration out on the guy.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that he saw the video, was was “disturbed by it.”
“The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable,” he wrote.
Garcia has since been stripped of his badge and gun, and the incident is under internal review.