EAST NY – Cops arrested and punched a young man in the head for failing to social distance two days ago on a Brooklyn street.
A viral video of the incident shows 20-year-old Stephon Scott on the ground as three cops handcuff him on Sunday. One cop– identified as Michael V. Amello from the 75 Precinct– ends up punching him in the head. When bystanders question the cops, the same cop takes out his baton and tells them to back up, while threatening to arrest them for not wearing masks. According to the NYPD, Scott had refused to be handcuffed.
The Mayor, in his press conference this morning seemed to defend the NYPD saying: “Respect goes both ways.” As for the punching? It shouldn’t be assumed to be excessive force, the Police Commissioner said.
This IS MY SON This happened to last night 75th precinct my heart just broke 😢😪💔
Posted by Missy CR on Monday, May 4, 2020
“I would caution against anyone trying to look at different videos or different situations and see them all the same. They’re not all the same. I want to caution that any time that officer asks someone to observe social distancing or put on a mask, the response from any New Yorker, one, should follow the rules and the laws we’re living with right now; two, should be concerned about the health and safety of everyone, starting with their own family,” Mayor de Blasio said at this morning’s press conference when asked about the incident. “The response should be to follow the instruction of the officer, and people have to understand that.”
This is not the first time a man has been aggressively arrested by cops amid the pandemic. On Saturday, cops approached a man and woman who were standing and talking outside a deli in the Lower East Side, while allegedly standing six-feet apart. The cops ordered them to separate, and soon enough, it led to a violent arrest.
“We look at every incident carefully, and, as I spoke about the incident in the Lower East Side the other day when I see something I think is inappropriate, I’m going to say it, and, obviously, that was a case where an officer was modified right away,” de Blasio said. “But I also want to remind people that what New Yorkers need to do is respect the NYPD as well, and respect the instructions, and certainly never ever fight with an NYPD officer. That is not acceptable. People are not ever allowed to use physical force against an NYPD officer.”
“That’s just not something that can happen in this city. So, we have retrained our entire police force to deescalate, to respect communities, to work with the neighborhood policing approach, and I’ve seen tremendous progress. There’s still work to be done, but I want to remind everyone it’s a two-way street,” Mayor continued. “Respect goes both ways and that’s how we create a better city for everyone. And when an officer says, follow these rules around social distancing or wearing a face covering, that is for the protection and health of everyone. And I say, I’m glad that officers are out there making sure that people are safe, because, if not, people wouldn’t be safe.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea agreed. He also noted that a punch should not be assumed to be excessive force.
“A punch is something that we actually trained for in the Police Academy. It is a part of the level of escalation that begins with discussion, begins with the de-escalation, and it progresses up from there,” he said at the press conference. “So, to answer your question, no, a punch should not be assumed to be excessive force. It should be examined in the totality of the circumstances and, as any incident is reviewed, we review all of these incidents.”
“But, again, I don’t think it’s surprising when you look at – start to see some of the patterns emerge here, your individuals that are being repeatedly arrested, and it is not shocking to me that they are not complying with the police’s orders at times,” Shea continued. “This individual, in this particular incident that you mentioned, had just been arrested for a burglary a month ago. So, that’s something that the officers are dealing with as well. But we’ll work through it. We’ll continue to do what we do, keeping New Yorkers safe and, you know, hopefully, we’ll come out of there sooner more than later.”
The video was first posted online by the mother of the young man, who wrote, “This IS MY SON This happened to last night 75th precinct my heart just broke.”
To many, this brutal arrest is completely different from the response of failing to social distance in other neighborhoods. On May 2, Domino Park was filled with people enjoying the weather. Many didn’t have masks. Instead of arresting them, the NYPD gave out free masks.
Anthony Beckford, a community activist, says this was an act of “bias policing by the NYPD of Black Youth regarding social distancing. This does not happen to white people who violate social distancing. They are using the pandemic as a weapon for further brutality.”