An NYPD officer was caught on video punching a man in his head during an arrest in East New York on Sunday.
According to the arrest report, 20-year-old Stephon Scott and three others were stopped by police for “failing to social distance.” The report states that all the men were ”within six feet of each other.” According to a NYPD spokesperson, Scott approached the police car and then refused to be handcuffed.
The video shows Scott being wrestled to the ground by three officers, one punches him in the head during the tussle. The officer who punched Scott then waves his baton at the bystanders, telling them to back up and “go inside.” The officer’s face is covered with a mask, however, the badge number of the officer matches Michael Amello of the 75th Precinct.
The officer then threatens to arrest the witnesses for “not wearing a mask,” as another officer, who is not wearing a mask or any face covering can be seen next to him in the video.
According to NYPD Spokesperson Detective Arlene Muniz, Scott was subsequently charged with resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct.
Another 15-year-old at the scene was also charged with menacing. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the arrest, Muniz said.
Oren Yaniv, a spokesperson for Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, said that their office declined to prosecute the charges against Scott because of a policy put in place in March to not pursue “low level cases as part of our efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.” Yaniv said that their office has declined to pursue more than 400 cases because of the policy. It’s unclear how long Scott was held in police custody.
Asked about the incident on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the young men for not following police orders. “I want to caution that any time an officer asks someone to observe social distancing or put on a mask, the response should be to follow the instruction of the officer,” de Blasio told reporters. “Respect goes both ways.”