The New York City police department has launched an investigation amid allegations of police brutality against a black 16-year-old named Jahmel Leach, after his family shared photos of the badly beaten teenager while demanding justice.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “really troubled” by the Leach family’s account of what happened to the teen earlier in the month when he was detained by police officers during a night of protests over the death of George Floyd.
“I’ve spoken to Jahmel’s family and I’m really troubled by what they told me,” he said in a statement on Wednesday night. “We’re going to get them answers. The NYPD has launched an investigation into what happened.”
The 16-year-old was detained by the NYPD, which said it had body camera footage of him lighting a pile of garbage on fire during the protests on 1 June. His family pushed back on those claims, saying he was watching the vandalism that occurred but not participating.
Photos showing the teenager’s bruised face were featured on a bulletin shared by the family across social media, which claimed the NYPD arresting officer told his mother: “I'm sorry. He is so tall I thought he was an adult when I took him down."
The family said officers tased and beat the teenager, then arrested him and took him to a local hospital. Officers did not inform any family members about the minor’s arrest until he had reached the hospital, the family claimed — which would be a violation of new laws passed in the city, ABC News New York reported.
Local officials have decried the alleged police misconduct, including New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who tweeted: “Earlier this month, @NYCSchools student Jahmel Leach sustained significant injuries—an injured jaw, and cuts, bruises, and swelling all over his body—allegedly in an incident with the NYPD. I am horrified. I know @NYPDNews is now investigating.”
The death of Mr Floyd — a 46-year-old black man who was seen in now-viral cellphone footage pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes before his death — sparked global protests against racism and police brutality.
In New York City, those weeks of demonstrations have occasionally turned violent by nightfall in some areas, with peaceful protests devolving into scenes of violent riots and looting.
The NYPD has also alleged they saw the teenager exiting a vandalised T-Mobile store, though he was not in possession of any stolen products.
Mr Leach and his family approached the mayor during a memorial service for George Floyd held in Brooklyn last week. The teenager wore a shirt featuring the bulletin with his beaten face on it as he posed for a photo with Mr de Blasio that was then shared to social media.
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