When will it end? New York authorities are reportedly investigating a complaint by a 23-year-old Hispanic man, Santiago Hernandez, who says he was savagely beaten by a group of New York Police Department officers who took turns kicking and punching him in an encounter that was captured on cellphone and surveillance video.
In an interview with ABC News in New York, Santiago said the officers “were taking turns like a gang.”
“They was taking turns on me,” he said of the incident that occurred on Aug. 18. “One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back. And another one comes and grabs my arm and hits me like 10 times with the baton. Another one comes and pepper-sprayed me, they were taking turns like a gang.”
What prompted the incident? Apparently Hernandez asking a simple question: Why was he being stopped and frisked as he waited outside a Harlem apartment building?
Once Hernandez asked the question, the video shows the female officer grabbing his arm to put him in handcuffs. The police were reportedly investigating a noise complaint.
“She just was telling me to put my hands behind my back, but ‘I’m like trying to understand what are you arresting me for. Can you please tell me?’” Hernandez told an ABC 7 reporter.
The video then shows other officers arriving and commencing to beat the young man with nightsticks.
The NYPD has been under a harsh glare for years because of its controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactics, which were ruled by a federal judge to be a violation of the civil rights of Black and Hispanic men in the city, who are its predominant victims.
The scrutiny on the NPYD got even more intense after the police killed Staten Island father Eric Garner in July when he was placed in a chokehold — though the department banned chokeholds decades ago.
“Unfortunately for young men like Santiago, I think incidents like this are all too common,” Jay Heinrich, Hernadez’s attorney, told ABC.
Through his lawyer, Hernandez has filed a civil complaint with the city. In addition, the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident.
When he was asked why he did not simply allow the officer to put him in handcuffs, he said, “Because I’m a person to ask questions. If I didn’t do nothing wrong, I’m trying to understand the reason, what they are thinking of me, or what was the reason at all to arrest me.”
He also offered that he was on parole after spending six years in prison for a gang-related offense when he was 14.
The video shows the police officers taking Hernandez away, having arrested him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But longtime Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, who is African American, decided not to move forward with the case.