Black New York teens planning to meet at a subway station to go trick-or-treating on Halloween instead were targeted with guns in a police encounter that ended with three of the children arrested and one allegedly hit by a cop car.
Multiple witnesses told THE CITY news nonprofit they saw both uniformed and undercover cops with the New York City Police Department swarm a group of about 15 teens around 8:30 p.m. near Cobble Hill Cinemas on Court Street.
The heavy police presence prompted the teens to run, the news agency reported.
“I was scared because I had never been arrested before,” Anthony Ellis, 15, told THE CITY.
His mother, Tiffany Aloyo, told the news organization cops never called her or other parents to inform them their children were in custody, an accusation NYPD rebuts.
She also said police eventually told her the boys were stopped because they matched “the description” of a suspect.
“They said they fit the description,” Aloyo said. “But what was the description? Who was y’all looking for? The kids that y’all arrested — they don’t even look anything alike!”
Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor at the investigative news nonprofit ProPublica, witnessed the incident, according to a thread of Twitter messages he posted Saturday after the encounter.
“On Halloween, my family saw NYPD converge on a group of black teenagers in Brooklyn,” Umansky said. “My wife and our 6-year-old daughter saw an unmarked NYPD car going against traffic *hit one of the boys.* I asked the police about it. They say it didn’t happen.”
“It was ‘a horrible sound,'” Umansky said, reporting a witness’ description.
NYPD Director of Media Relations Al Baker said in a statement Umansky obtained that officers were “investigating a violent robbery” when multiple people fled and “refused lawful orders to stop.”
“One unknown male who had fled the scene ran across the hood of a stationary police car,” Baker said in the statement. “Those officers then took that car and continued to travel counter flow, with their lights on to pursue that individual. They were looking for him. They did not find him.”
NYPD Detective Annette Shelton told THE CITY that a 15-year-old reported around 8 p.m. that a group of teens had punched and kicked him before taking his cellphone in nearby Carroll Park.
When officers showed up on the scene, they approached a group of teens in the area and saw the group get rid of a knife, a wooden baseball bat and multiple backpacks later recovered by authorities, Shelton said.
The incident ended in Anthony’s arrest and that of a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy on charges of obstructing governmental administration, Umansky said on Twitter.
“One witness said the youngest boy was crying, asking, ‘What did I do,'” Umansky tweeted.
The journalist said he waited with the children at the 76th Precinct.
“The boys were held for four hours, until 12:45am,” he tweeted. “NYPD says it notified the parents. Parents told me they were *not contacted by the NYPD.* They went to the station after neighbors told them. They also weren’t allowed to see their kids.”
Umansky’s attention triggered a response on Twitter Sunday from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which can refer disciplinary action to police.
“Hi @ericuman, here through @subirgrewal. The CCRB has received a complaint and is investigating this incident,” the board said in the tweet.
The encounter played out one stop away from the Jay Street-Metrotech subway station, where multiple cops were accused of police brutality for their response in a violent subway brawl.