NYPD officer appears to step on suspect's head during arrest in Brooklyn

Darla Miles has the story.
Three families assembled at the National Action Network in Harlem on Saturday morning - all united by the same pain.

"I'm here because seeing this family is like looking in the mirror all over again, said Nicole Paultre Bell, the fiance of Sean Bell.

Rashida Rahim was also at the rally. Rahim's brother is Jamil El-Cuffee, a 32-year-old who was shown in cell phone video apparently being stomped in the head by an NYPD officer last Wednesday in Bed-Stuy.


A new video shows a man who community advocates identified as El-Cuffee being arrested in Brooklyn. Eyewitness Gary Dormer recorded the video as two officers try to arrest El-Cuffee, who police said had been smoking pot.

For 55 seconds, the video shows two partners struggling on their own to control El-Cuffee, as a crowd grows angrier and a woman approaches to help him. Then, the officer briefly pulls out his gun.

After help arrived, the officer in question picks up a piece of evidence and walks down the block, returning to find the suspect on the ground but still not cuffed and still struggling. Then he appears to step on the man's head.

While the video does not actually show the officer's foot touching the head of the suspect, the officer's sergeant seems to react to the action.

The officer, who the Associated Press has identified as Joel Edouard, has been put on desk duty for allegedly stomping a drug suspect during an arrest captured on amateur video. Police said Saturday that he was ordered to surrender his badge and gun while the police department reviews the incident.

El-Cuffee has three prior arrests, including one for weapons possession. He has been charged in this case with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

New York City is investigating the death last week of Garner who was placed in an apparent chokehold by an NYPD officer who was arresting him on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears to be a chokehold, which is banned under police policy. The 43-year-old Garner can be heard gasping, "I can't breathe!"

At the rally Saturday morning, Garner's widow said he wasn't violent. Esaw Garner said her husband, "was a quiet man, but he's making a lot of noise now."

Community leaders are encouraging witnesses to record any incident when they believe officers are abusing their power, however Police Union Spokesman Patrick Lynch released a statement on Saturday saying,

"They never capture the criminal act or offense that brings police action to the scene' it said. "They present an isolated period of a police interaction but never the entire scenario. That's why it is necessary when video tapes surface to have a complete review of the facts in every case before arriving at any conclusion."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has been on a family vacation overseas for several days, but the Associated Press is reporting that he plans to address the Garner incident early next week when he returns.

On Friday, Garner's family, Sharpton and others met with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn to press for an investigation into the death.

"The civil rights of Eric Garner were violated," Sharpton said after the closed-door meeting with officials from the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "That led to his death."

Sharpton and the Garner family announced Saturday that they will meet with Dan Donovan, the district attorney for Staten Island on Monday. Sharpton said he wants to know if he his office plans to prosecute.

Autopsy results are pending further testing.

The NYPD is investigating the circumstances of Garner's death, Staten Island prosecutors have launched a criminal probe and several public safety workers involved in the case have been pulled from the street.

Daniel Pantaleo, identified as the officer who wrapped his arm around Garner's neck, has been stripped of his gun and badge. Another officer has also been placed on desk duty. The NYPD plans to revamp its training on the use of force.

Two paramedics and two EMTs have been suspended without pay after the fire department barred them from responding to 911 calls.

Sharpton said Garner's family is also asking to meet with the Staten Island district attorney's office to "deal with the investigation there."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
news nypd arrest Bedford Stuyvesant New York City
(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Load Comments