A NYPD police officer who appeared to use a chokehold on a black man, Ricky Bellevue, at Rockaway Beach, Queens, on June 21, has been suspended without pay, reports the New York Times:
The police said they received complaints about a man yelling and screaming at people at the beach at 8:45 a.m.
In police body camera video footage, Bellevue and other men appeared to taunt the police officers who laughed. Bellevue reportedly reached into a a trash can, grabbed something and asked the cops twice if they were scared.
Three cops got on top of Bellevue, including a police officer who appeared to press his forearm into Bellevue’s neck for 10 seconds while bystanders screamed at the police that Bellevue was being choked.
Lori Zeno, the executive director of Queens Defenders, a law firm representing Bellevue, said that Bellevue lost consciousness during the arrest.
Zeno said Bellevue had a bloody scalp and swollen wrists when she saw him at the police station: “He was on such a hard chokehold that he couldn’t speak to say he couldn’t breathe.”
Zeno identified the officer as David Afanador. The Legal Aid Society confirmed this identification.
The New York Times notes that Officer Afanador said in the video that the police didn’t want to be hurt by Bellevue:
The minute I saw him flex on him, that’s when he goes down because we don’t get hurt and we’re not going to leave somebody violent out here who might do that to one of you or another innocent person. That’s why he’s in cuffs, and that’s why he’s going to the hospital because we know he’s ill.
The incident happened only days after the City Council passed a law that made a police chokehold a crime.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea tweeted on the evening of June 21 that the officer was suspended without pay.
1/2— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) June 21, 2020
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. https://t.co/pAFUo0zxnc