- Facebook/ Daquan Owens
- A New York City police officer identified as Francisco Garcia was filmed pointing a stun gun at a man and violently punching him during an incident the NYPD says started as social distancing enforcement.
- Police told The New York Post that a tussle broke out when officers tried to break up a group of people gathering in the East Village on Saturday.
- Video of the incident shows a bystander, identified as Donni Wright, walking toward police. Garcia then was seen pointing a stun gun at him, pulling him to the ground, and punching him.
- The NYPD has put Garcia on desk duty and stripped him of his gun and badge while authorities investigate the incident.
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A New York City police officer has been placed on desk duty after he was filmed pointing a stun gun at a man and violently punching him while making arrests over social distancing violations.
Police told The New York Post that officers were breaking up a gathering in the East Village on Saturday when two people, identified by the paper as Shakiem Brunsom and Ashley Serrano, refused to leave the area. Officers told The Post that they then tried to arrest Brunsom and Serrano, but a tussle ensued when they resisted.
A bystander, identified by police as 33-year-old Donni Wright, tried to walk toward the NYPD officers, and a plainclothes officer not wearing a mask, identified by The Post as Francisco Garcia, approached him with a stun gun.
Video from the incident shows Garcia dragging Wright to the ground, slapping him in the face, and punching his shoulder. The clip then shows Garcia kneeling on Wright’s head while another officer handcuffed him.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told Gothamist that Brunsom, Serrano, and Wright were all arrested and that the incident, “started out as a social distancing enforcement” to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Brunsom was charged with resisting arrest and marijuana possession, Serrano was charged with resisting arrest and criminal possession of a weapon in connection to a stun gun police say she was carrying, and Wright was charged with assault of a police officer and resisting arrest.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told The Post that Wright had struck a fighting stance not seen in video of the incident and that Garcia felt threatened.
Daquan Owens, who filmed the incident, told Gothamist that Brunsom and Serrano had been standing six feet apart when police tried to break them up. Security footage posted online showed Brunsom and Serrano standing on opposite sides of a sidewalk while talking, only moving to the same side seconds before police arrived.
Owens said that Wright “wasn’t being aggressive” when he approached the officers.
“He was just talking,” Owens told Gothamist. “He never raised his hands or hit him. Cop just took it upon himself to start beating on him. I was standing right next to him. I could hear everything.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that he had watched the video of the incident.
“Saw the video from the Lower East Side and was really disturbed by it,” he wrote. “The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable.”
Shea said in a press conference that 43 summonses were issued on Saturday for failing to maintain social distancing, according to The Post.
“I would just reiterate that we had tens of thousands of interactions with people all across the city yesterday, most of them without having to issue any type of enforcement activity, whether it’s a summons or arrest,” Shea told press.