NYPD cop suspended after video emerges of him using 'disturbing' chokehold on black man

'fter a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay'

Graig Graziosi
Monday 22 June 2020 17:50
NYPD chief defends force against racism allegations

An NYPD officer was suspended Sunday after being caught using a "disturbing" chokehold on a Black man who was accused of harassing beach goers in Queens.

Videos of the encounter between Ricky Bellevue and police emerged on social media following the incident. Police officers are seen trying to hold Mr Bellevue down.

Officers said that Mr Bellevue threw a bottle at them. In the bodycam footage, Mr Bellevue is among a group of three men who appear to be taunting the officers and filming them. The video suggests Mr Bellevue has some familiarity with the police involved in the arrest.

One officer, whose Mr Bellevue's lawyer identified to the New York Times as David Afanador, appears to have his arm wrapped around Mr Bellevue's neck while he is pressed face-first into the pavement and unconscious.

A group of people filming the event yelled at police to let him go, screaming "stop choking him" and "he's out."

One of the other officers involved in the arrest eventually taps the arm of the officer choking Mr Bellevue to get him to release the hold. The officer then releases his hold.

Mr Bellevue allegedly lost consciousness due to the chokehold and was treated at the hospital for swollen wrists and a bloody scalp.

"Well, physically he's not doing great," Mr Bellevue's lawyer told Spectrum News NY1. "Police officers are saying he has a laceration, that's in their statement. But it's more than a laceration. It's a huge circle, sort of, on the back of his head where they clearly dragged him along the concrete or something. Because it took all of his hair off and all of his skin off."

Following the incident, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced that an officer involved in Mr Bellevue's arrest was suspended without pay.

"Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay," Mr Shea said. "While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary."

Last week, New York City Council passed several major police reform bills, including one that banned the use of chokeholds by police officers. Governor Andrew Cuomo also passed a state-wide ban on chokeholds.

Mr Bellevue will be represented by the Queens Legal Defence Fund. The incident sparked a round of demonstrations outside the NYPD's 100th Precinct building in Queens, the latest in the ongoing George Floyd protests.