A rally was held Thursday in support of a young man who was seen in cell video being savagely beaten by officers of the New York Police Department despite his hands being up priorto the attack. Now, community organizers, the victim’s family and their lawyer are calling for justice.
“We are calling on the District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez, to open an investigation. We don’t want the NYPD, internal affairs to do this investigation…we don’t have faith in that system,” said Rev. Kevin McCall of the Crisis Action Center who organized the rally in front of the 69th Precinct.
According to Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, a plainclothes police officer did not identify himself when he approached Fitzroy Gayle, 20, who just left the 100% playground in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn on Wednesday night. Then cell video shows Mr. Gayle with his hands up, calmly asking, “What crime did I commit? What did I do?”
The officer, who Rubenstein identified as David Off, never responds to Mr. Gayle but can be heard requesting backup. By the end of the video eight other officers pile on top of Mr. Gayle kicking and stomping him. He begins to scream “What are you doing? Help me.”
A NYPD spokesperson wouldn’t confirm whether all the officers involved were from the 69th Precinct.
“Thank God for cell videos. Depiction of the truth, these police officers acted like thugs…They do deserve to get locked up…I hope a message comes from Brooklyn to police officers all over this country that if you do what these police officers did to this young man, you are going to jail,” Rubenstein said.
A solemn Gayle attended the rally with his mother, Daphney Gayle, but he did not speak. Although, he was still visibly shaken and fought back tears several times.
“We expect them to protect our children, that’s what they’re supposed to do, not brutalize them and treat them like animals,” said Daphney who also said that it was not necessary for so many officers to arrest her son.
Gayle was arrested after the incident and charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree and possession of marijuana in the second degree, according to a police spokesperson.
However, Rubenstein maintains that Gayle was not smoking in the park nor was he in possession of marijuana. Even if he was in possession, its no longer a crime to be in possession of 25 grams or less. Gayle was later released with a desk appearance ticket.
The crowd chanted “lock him up!” at the rally that was attended by several community leaders including Chris Banks of East New York United Concerned Citizen; Anthony Beckford, president of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn and AniYa A of Neighborhood Violence Survivors Alliance and New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud of the 19th Senatorial District.
According to initial reports, cops said they were in the area because shots were detected via their ShotSpotter. Yet, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said during a crime briefing on Thursday that there was no indication to believe Gayle and another man who was arrested at the scene were tied to the incident.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted “This was painful to watch. We still need to get all the facts about this case and a full investigation is underway, but I don’t like what I saw. It doesn’t reflect what we’re building in New York City.”
Rev. McCall will be marching to the to the 69th Precinct on Saturday, starting noon at East 100th Street and Glenwood Road where Gayle was arrested.