Man Arrested on M Train for Carrying… A Nerf Gun

BUSHWICK/BED-STUY — A man was arrested Thursday for criminal possession of a weapon on an M train.

An IGTV video originally posted by the Instagram account @harley_punxx shows close to a dozen police officers flooding the platform and train car, which was stopped at Myrtle-Broadway station, to handcuff the man. The man who made the call was white, while the arrestee appeared to be Latino.

The weapon in question? A nerf gun — a blue and orange one, to be exact.

According to NYPD, the man arrested was 25-year-old David Casilla. The charges were menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, and harassment. NYPD informed us in an email that the person who reported the incident, allegedly the man shown speaking to cops in the video, stated that “the subject was approaching passengers on a train displaying what appeared to be a firearm causing public alarm and annoyance.”

There was no mention in the report of whether or not the item that “appeared to be a firearm” was a nerf gun, but NYPD informed us that the manner of display takes precedence over whether or not the item was a weapon —  if the person who was reported was brandishing the item as if it were a weapon, as they say was the case in yesterday’s incident. In these situations, the person who makes the report is not penalized.

In the video, several cops are seen questioning the man who made the call, as angry onlookers shout “welcome to Brooklyn!” Others asked the arrestee what happened. While the audio is muddled, he can clearly be heard saying “Nerf gun!”

“Colorful?” Someone asked. “Colorful!” he responded. The nerf gun is visible toward the end of the video, when one of the cops waves it in front of Casilla’s face.

Text laid over the video reads: “You heard it here folks. A brown person got arrested because he had a nerf gun on the M train and some white man reported him and the cops descended on the myrtle broadway train stop.

This is the effect of gentrification. This is the policing it creates in communities of color. Don’t f–king move to Brooklyn in fact stay the f–k out of nyc.”

A description by the account of activist organization Decolonize this Place, which reposted the video, said that calling the police “could have led to this Brown brother’s DEATH.”

Gentrification, which the overlaid text pointed to as the root cause for this kind of incident, has drawn protests from people all over Brooklyn who oppose some of the more unsavory byproducts of this socioeconomic trend — like, for example, racist policing and over-policing in gentrifying areas. A general anti-gentrification protest took place in September 2017, while a more recent one last November more explicitly targeted police brutality and the aggressive fare-evasion crackdown on the subway.

The Times reported in December that several police officers gave statements in a discrimination lawsuit saying that a commander who helped to oversee much of the subway system in Brooklyn, Constantin Tsachas, told officers to target black and Hispanic riders for low-level offenses, and discouraged them from doing the same to white and Asian riders.

Bklyner reached out to the person who posted the video @harley_punxx, but hasn’t received a reply.

Correction: The article previously misstated that Casilla was arrested for “possession of a deadly weapon.” 

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Rachel Lindy Baron

Rachel is a freelance writer and recent Brooklyn transplant who is a bit obsessed with food.

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