An officer with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) slammed a young woman to the ground on Friday evening in Brooklyn during a protest against the Minneapolis Police Department’s killing of George Floyd.
That officer is now apparently the target of an Internal Affairs and City of New York investigation.
Dounya Zayer was protesting near the Barclays Center in the Prospect Heights neighborhood when an officer told her to “get out of the street” and gestured with his hand.
“Why?” Zayer quickly asked. The officer, identified as Vincent J. D’Andraia with the 73rd Precinct, initially responded by grabbing Zayer’s cellphone and throwing it to the ground, she said.
Within an instant, both of the officer’s hands were on Zayer as he forcefully shoved and slammed her into the gutter–head-first.
NYPD officer just called a female protester a “stupid fucking bitch” and threw her to the ground pic.twitter.com/18YUHYmqQa
— Jason Lemon (@JasonLemon) May 30, 2020
Zayer was then taken to a nearby emergency room and hospitalized after an apparently “serious seizure,” according to a social media report by South Brooklyn Mutual Aid organizer Whitney Hu.
The young woman’s treatment was widely criticized on social media–even from some voices not typically prone to such commentary.
“There is a sickness inside the NYPD,” commented conservative scholar and political scientist Norman Ornstein via Twitter. “Encouraged and exacerbated by its union leadership.”
“Let me explain a little bit about what happened, like, before the video started,” Zayer said in a later Twitter post from her hospital bed. “When I got pushed back, I realized what was going on because everyone was getting pushed back. I wasn’t the only one. So, I looked down, I started recording, I look back up and that’s when the video I just posted starts. That’s when the guy pushed my phone. But as you can see, I was already running backwards, it wasn’t like I was trying to get in his face.”
Another video showing a separate angle of the incident seems to show Zayer was, in fact, walking backwards at the time she was attacked.
“I want to make one thing clear about this situation: In no way was I aggressive towards this police officer and I did not even get in his physical space,” Zayer continued in a separate post. “He was walking in my direction, told me to move and because I didn’t move out of his way in time, he threw me out of the way.”
Zayer elaborated on why she was protesting and the NYPD’s response:
If you really want to compare, you know, me standing in the middle of the street to the officer who killed George Floyd in cold blood–his name is Derek Chauvin by the way; he is a murderer–it’s not comparable. I was protesting for a reason. And the officers who are at these protests should back down, they should apologize. Because they’re wearing blue and they’re part of the gang that killed George Floyd. And them acting the way they acted today isn’t helping the cause. It isn’t proving to us that they care about us. I wasn’t aggressive towards the police officer–and even if I was, he should have had the self-restraint to not hurt the people he’s supposed to be protecting. That’s the point of them being an officer. They’re supposed to protect us.
Law&Crime reached out to the 73rd Precinct. An officer there said he “hadn’t heard anything” about the assault and directed us to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information directed Law&Crime to statements made by the mayor and police commissioner.
“We’re already taking a look at the actions of officers involved in the incidents last night,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea said during a press conference Saturday morning–adding that he was confident in the ability of Internal Affairs to investigate the attack.
“If any officer in any way does violence to a civilian unprovoked–or a civilian who did not violate a law–there has to be visible account,” New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said when asked about the attack. “That’s something we have to do better in New York City.”
DeBlasio added that New York City will conduct its own inquiry into the officer who attacked Zayer–on top of the internal NYPD review.
“It has to be swift,” the mayor continued. “It has to be visible.”
[image via screengrab]
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