The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is investigating two police officers for excessive force after cell phone video appeared to show those officers beating two citizens with batons on Tuesday afternoon in Upper Manhattan.
According to the New York Daily News, the two as-of-now-unnamed officers were investigating complaints that 36-year-old Aaron Grissom and 37-year-old Sidney Williams “were smoking and bothering people at subway station stairs” in the Washington Heights neighborhood–an increasingly gentrified area of Manhattan famously ridiculed by the band Vampire Weekend in their hit song A-Punk.
NYPD officials say that both men left the subway station after being approached by the officers, but that a confrontation then occurred on the street.
In video posted to Instagram, two transit cops can be seen arguing with Grissom and Williams before one of the officers takes out a retractable baton and appears to connect with Williams’ head and shoulder.
Grissom then gives chase before he’s visibly attacked by two officers. The man is continuously struck by batons some 16-plus times before the officers relent. While on the ground, a plain clothes officer also appears to kick Grissom on his side.
According to the Daily News, a separate altercation between Williams and NYPD cops left a “pool of blood” next to a sidewalk fence.
Per court documents obtained by the outlet, the NYPD alleges that Grissom swung his fist at one of the officer’s before being struck–that alleged fist admittedly never connected. Those same documents also alleged that Williams rose to his friend’s defense after the second officer started using his baton.
Both men were eventually arrested and charged with assault, resisting arrest, menacing and sundry other charges. They were also treated at a nearby hospital for their injuries.
Response to the video was swift and critical.
“If people are on the ground and yet there’s still physical action being taken, that concerns me,” New York City May Bill de Blasio said at a press conference. “So I want to get some answers and I want to quickly hear from the NYPD.”
“[The police body camera] video better have that first swing,” an anonymous source with knowledge of the case told the Daily News. “If not, they’re done for.”
[video courtesy that_boy_lucky_ and image via screengrab that_boy_lucky_/Instagram]