A New York City police officer threw a man to the ground and struck him repeatedly Saturday in an incident that authorities say began during an effort to enforce social distancing restrictions. Startling footage of the confrontation, which involved the arrests of three people, went viral on social media, and police said they will investigate.
The video, which was independently verified by the news organization Storyful, shows police wrestling a man to the ground in New York’s East Village. One officer then points a stun gun at an approaching man and tells him to move back before forcing him to the ground and striking him. Another officer then jumps in to handcuff the bystander.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night that he was “really disturbed” by the footage. “The behavior I saw in that video is simple not acceptable,” he wrote.
Saw the video from the Lower East Side and was really disturbed by it. The officer involved has been placed on modified duty and an investigation has begun. The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 3, 2020
Storyful said the video was shot by Daquan Owens, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NYPD said in a statement to Storyful that officers, who have not been identified, asked a group “in violation of social distancing orders” to disperse but that some refused to do so.
Police said Ashley Serrano, 22, attempted to intervene during the arrest of Sahkiem Brunson, 31. An officer then ordered Donni Wright, 33, to disperse, but he allegedly took a “fighting stance against the officer and was also taken into custody.”
Police said all three were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, with Brunson and Serrano facing additional charges of weapons possession.
The Post could not immediately reach Brunson, Serrano or Wright, and it was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference Sunday that the incident in the video started out as a social distancing violation before it escalated and that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating.
Shea added that the NYPD issued 51 summonses Saturday for social distancing violations.
The toll of the pandemic has been especially steep in New York state, where at least 316,000 coronavirus cases have been reported and at least 24,000 people have died since March 14.