Viral video showed at least 10 New York City police officers ambushing a subway car and tackling an unarmed Black man to the ground in Brooklyn.
The witness video viewed by more than three million people showed a man police later identified as Adrian Napier, 19, sitting with his hands in the air seconds before the officers pounced on him Friday on the No. 4 train stopped at the Franklin Avenue station platform.
Passengers first noticed the group of police officers outside the train.
The onlookers quickly started scurrying to one end of the car or the other when they noticed several of the officers pointing guns at Napier through a window.
“Free my son! Free my son!” one man could be heard yelling.
Moments later, police flooded the train through the car door nearest Napier.
Although not shown in the web video, he reportedly asked police at one point in the encounter if he should lie on the floor or remain seated.
“Call my mom,” he told someone on the train, the Post reported.
The video showed a white officer grabbing Napier’s arm and yanking him to the ground as other officers piled on top of him and around him.
Daniel Moritz-Rabson, a Newsweek reporter, tweeted a statement from NYPD explaining Friday that officers were responding “to an alert for a male with a gun” when the encounter took place at about 4:45 p.m.
Officers also said in the statement that although the “investigation determined that report to be unfounded,” the man was still “placed under arrest.”
He was charged with theft of services, NBC New York reported.
Witnesses told police they saw Napier with a gun near Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, the news station reported of the police statement.
When officers approached the man, he allegedly ran into the Pacific Street subway station, jumped a turnstile and continued running onto the southbound No. 4 train where the police encounter unfolded, NBC New York reported.
Elad Nehora, the writer who recorded the incident, posted the footage on Twitter Friday because he said “it seemed painfully clear that if anything had gone wrong, that young man might have easily been killed.”
In another tweet, he listed several observations he made during the encounter.
“1. In the car, no one was scared of the young man. Everyone was terrified of the police,” he said. “2. Seeing the terror in his eyes will stay with me forever. 3. Seeing the anger in some of the officers’ eyes will as well.”
Seconds later, a group of New York police officers flooded the train and tackled the young man to the ground, cuffing and frisking him. The officers didn’t find the gun they were looking for, but they arrested Napier for fare evasion, charging him with theft of services for hopping over a turnstile.