Footage of several New York Police Department officers swarming an unarmed Black man is making rounds on social media.
A woman, who identified herself as Velvet, filmed the encounter between a young Black man and the NYPD around 7:50 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 in Brooklyn, New York. She posted three clips on her Twitter page. In the video, the young man is being held up against a wall by an officer in plain clothes.
“What crime did I commit?” the man asked while the officer called for backup.
The man asked what he did wrong several times, but the officer never answered or identified himself. Velvet advised the young man to ask if he was being detained. He insisted he did nothing wrong.
“He followed me and said come over here real quick,” the man told her.
The man kept asking what he did wrong and the only response he received from the officer was “stop moving!”
Velvet told Atlanta Black Star she saw the incident while walking home and thought it was a misunderstanding between two civilians.
“One guy was pinning the other by this chest and the other with his hands up. I was about to cross the street when I thought maybe the guy needs help,” she told Atlanta Black Star via direct message.
“I turned to get a better look at the situation and then I saw a gun so I stopped my music (that I was playing in my AirPods) and heard the guy who was being pinned ask ‘Who are you? Can you identify yourself?’ I realized then it was cop.”
The officer reportedly stopped the man as he walked through a park. According to Velvet, the park didn’t close until 9 p.m. so he wasn’t there illegally.
Eventually, the backup arrived, and the man was swarmed by at least eight officers. Even though the man had his hands up the entire time, he was tackled and pinned to the sidewalk.
As the officers manhandled him, the young man cried and screamed for help. None of the officers spoke to him prior to the takedown.
“I’ve never been arrested a day in my life,” the man yelled while the officers were on top of him.
“It took eight of y’all to roll him on his stomach?” Velvet asked in one clip.
The NYPD gave Atlanta Black Star a brief statement regarding the incident.
“The officers observed two males inside the park smoking a lit marijuana cigarette and as the officers approached the individuals they fled the location,” spokeswoman Detective Denise Moroney said in an email. “Upon apprehension, one individual was arrested and the second individual was issued a summons. This incident is currently under internal review.”
On Twitter, Velvet noted he was alive when he was placed in custody. The confrontation was hard for her to watch.
“I was honestly disgusted by the whole situation. It was an abuse of power and it’s not my first time seeing cops behaving like that,” she told Atlanta Black Star. “I was angry while it was happening but I felt numb at the same time. I felt powerless. It’s disheartening seeing someone dehumanized in front of you and you can’t do anything about it.”
The first video Velvet posted has been viewed more than three million times.
“These COPS target black men to take their anger out on us because they know they could never pull that s–t outside uniform and I’m sick of it honestly,” wrote one viewer.
“Cops should not be able to attack citizens without having answers to why they are being detained. This young man wasnt even resisting arrest,” said another person. “The whole police department is corrupt and needs to retrained!”
“Why is it you can never find a cop when you need one but when a single black male needs detaining a whole squadron is ready and running,” asked another observer.
The young man has not been identified, but a man claiming to know his family tweeted: “I know his brother his name is Brian.” We’ve contacted the individual behind that particular post, and will update the story as we receive any additional information.
This is a developing story.