Days after a video emerged on social media of a New York Police Department officer savagely punching a Black teenage girl, the cop has been suspended without pay.
Politicians have commented on the incident, saying, “violence against our children is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 3, officers, who were stationed at a fixed dismissal post near the school, were called to break up an after-school fight between several teen and pre-teen girls in Staten Island around 2:40 p.m. near the Edwin Markham Middle School.
The New York Daily News reports two sisters, 12 and 14, got into a scrap with a different 14-year-old girl after school near a bus stop outside the school. Matters escalated when the police officer tried to break it up and handcuff the 12-year-old.
Multiple cellphone videos captured by bystanders show the officer, Nicholas Scalzo, approached by Kyonna Robinson as he tries to handcuff Robinson’s 12-year-old sister. When Robinson raises an arm to intervene by grabbing at the cuffs, Scalzo pushes her away, and when Robinson lashes back Scalzo responds by pounding the minor in her head, neck, and back.
Robinson said she originally asked the officer, “What are you guys doing?” However, she says he responded with violence.
“He pushed me, and then I punched him in his face two times, and we just started fighting,” Robinson told CBS News.
Another officer appears to be grabbing the girl also, but it is not clear if he is trying to separate the two or assist his partner. Some of the young people are seen trying to pull the officer off the girl and attempting to separate the girl from the authorities.
In the eight-second clip, one youth yells out in confusion, “He’s hitting her? What the f**k!”
Another child shouted out, “Don’t do that!”
Christy Lou, 13, talked to the Daily News a day after the fight, revealing she also was hit.
“He was hitting her repeatedly in the head. I tried to grab her and pull her under me. He ended up hitting me,” Lou said.
“It happened so quick, I couldn’t even think straight,” Robinson said to the Daily News addressing the entire mele. “I just thought they were going to break up the fight and take us to the precinct.”
She was partly correct. Robinson and her younger sister were taken in.
A police report says the 14-year-old was charged with resisting arrest and assault, and her 12-year-old sibling was charged with assault. Both were charged as juveniles.
After the arrest, Robinson says she was transported to a local hospital and was treated for a bump on her head. She says she also suffered from a headache.
The girls’ mother, Taneesha Robinson, told the newspaper she was originally unaware of exactly what transpired, saying, “I was informed that my child had been taken to the doctor’s, and that kind of caught me a little bit off guard. I wasn’t sure why she had to go to the doctor.”
The 14-year-old has asthma, the mom revealed.
“I thought that was the reason why she went to the hospital,” she continued. “I didn’t know that it was because they just wanted to cover themselves and make sure that they didn’t see any injuries from the police officer.”
The mother said, “I was hurt. It’s upsetting when a female was hit by a male, but this is a juvenile by a police officer, so it just brings it to another notch.”
While this incident is upsetting, according to USA Today, it is not uncommon for Black girls to be beaten, hurt, and traumatized by law enforcement.
A study conducted by the newspaper and The Marshall Project reviewed six major police departments between 2015 to 2020 and discovered 4,000 minors were assaulted by police. Out of this group, 20 percent of those brutalized were Black girls. This statistic becomes more staggering when juxtaposed against their white counterparts. Black girls are abused by police six times more.
Early Wednesday, Jan. 4, the NYPD tweeted about the police-involved violence.
“Last evening, the NYPD became aware of an incident that occurred on Staten Island where officers responded to a fight between a group of youths. The actions of those officers are under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau. At this time, one officer has been suspended,” the department wrote.
New York Mayor Eric Adams commented on the debacle at an unrelated news conference in Brooklyn. He said an investigation is going to look at the police bodycam footage to get a more complete picture of what happened.
“That’s why bodycams are good,” he said before promising to also use the video posted on social media.
While he did not immediately speak about the particulars of the incident, he stated, “I was not pleased with what I saw on the video.”
District 49 Council Member Kamillah M. Hanks was more direct in her comment on the incident, tweeting, “I immediately contacted NYPD to request an investigation.”
“I am encouraged by the NYPD’s swift and appropriate response to this matter,” she continued. “Let me be clear – violence against our children is unacceptable [and] will not be tolerated.”
The president of the police union said the officers are all “entitled to due process,” asking people not to make a judgment on the incident “based on a few seconds of video.”
“What is clear at this point is that these police officers were trying to break up a violent altercation when they, themselves, were assaulted. What is needed now is a thorough investigation of the entire circumstances, not just what has been posted online,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, in a statement.