New York City’s top cop is defending an officer seen on video kneeling on a suspect’s head and waving a gun at onlookers during a “chaotic” arrest in a Brooklyn neighborhood last week.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill claimed the officer in question was only defending himself after the suspect hurled several dollar bills into the air in an effort to draw a crowd and avoid being arrested, the New York Daily News reported.
The incident unfolded Friday near Sixth Avenue in Prospect Heights and grew tense when the suspect refused to go peacefully.
“This was an arrest they made, or were attempting to make, where an individual decided that as he was being arrested, he was going to take whatever cash I assume he had stolen and throw that up into a crowd, creating a chaotic situation,” O’Neill told reporters on Monday.
O’Neill said a “physical struggle” ensued after two other individuals at the scene tried to prevent officers from arresting the first man.
Video from the incident shows a plainclothes officer with his knee on the man’s head, pinning him against the pavement. The man, who appears to be handcuffed, remains quiet throughout the video.
At one point, the officer points his gun at bystanders and warns them to “get back” before re-holstering his weapon. Meanwhile, three more plainclothes officers are seen tackling a second man in the background, forcing him face down into the curb.
“If somebody does not want to be arrested, sometimes it doesn’t look pretty,” O’Neill said Monday. “It’s a hard job.”
The commissioner’s response to the incident sparked a torrent of angry reactions from online critics who accused him of defending brutality by NYPD officers.
“Commissioner, O’Neill, should be FIRED,” one Twitter user wrote. “This is the 2nd time in one day, that he’s defended brutality. The 1st. involved an NYPD PO using his car to ram a cyclist. Folks, it ain’t gonna get better, only worse, if this socio-pathic guy remains Police Commissioner. He’s scary!”
“They do everything possible to make sure people hate Police,” another opined. “This Commissioner sits at a desk; don’t let him speak for you if you’re out on the streets.”
One user commented, “I never ever see white people arrested like that.”
Police ultimately arrested the two men in the video: 29-year-old Carey Cruise and 26-year-old Edwin Barreto, the Daily News reported.
Cruise was charged with petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon (for a knife authorities say he was carrying), obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct.
Cops also charged Barreto with assaulting an officer, obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, menacing and harassment.
According to the newspaper, officers also issued a summons to Natalie Urrea, 21, charging her with harassment and disorderly conduct in the incident.
Watch more in the video below.