A newly released amateur video shows an officer of the New York Police Department tackling a pregnant woman and throwing her on the ground belly first. The officer remained on top of her, restraining her on the pavement face-down.
This use of force was captured in a bystander’s video, which depicts Sandra Amezquita, over five months pregnant, being grabbed by the arm and thrown to the ground at around 2:15 a.m on Wednesday in Sunset Park, a largely Latino working class neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Several other community members got involved and were subsequently slapped with charges related to obstructing government administration.
“You would think the police would respect a woman that is pregnant,” Amezquita said through an interpreter in an exclusive interview with The New York Daily News. “I was afraid something happened to my baby. I am still afraid that something is wrong.”
The recent immigrant from Colombia told advocates and media that she has already suffered complications, abdominal pains and vaginal bleeding since the incident occurred.
The baby’s father, Ronel Lemos, witnessed the event in horror. “The first thing I thought was they killed my baby and they’re going to kill my wife,” Lemos, said. As he tried to intervene, he was booked for assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, harassment and obstructing governmental administration, law enforcement sources told the New York Post. Another man who was also on the scene, Secundino Payamps, was charged with assault on a police officer, obstruction of governmental administration and harassment.
While wrestling Amezquita, the video also shows the police shoving off a friend, Mercedes Hidalgo, when she likewise attempted to intervene.
The altercation began around 2:15 a.m. after Amezquita asked police to "stop using excessive force"on her son, family lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said. Cops from New York City’s 72nd Precinct had spotted her son, Jhohan Lemos, with a knife clip on his pants pocket, and a bulge below, and were placing him under arrest.
According to police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park, police officers had actually been harassing Lemos for a prior robbery arrest and planted the knife.
The officer is the second police from the 72nd Precinct in a week to be under investigation by the N.Y.P.D. Internal Affairs Bureau after getting caught on video using excessive force in Sunset Park. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in mid-September suspended the cop for kicking a street vendor as the vendor was being subdued by other officers, according to information obtained by the New York Daily News.
According to U.S. civil rights coalition, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, so called “community policing” tactics and particularly New York’s police profiling laws known as “Stop-and-Frisk” invariably work against -- and are disproportionately aimed at – Black and Hispanic populations in the United States. Professor David Cole at the Georgetown University Law Center has pointed out that such an enforcement strategy “relies heavily on inherently discretionary police judgments about which communities to target, which individuals to stop, and whether to use heavy-handed or light-handed treatment for routine infractions.”
The Mollen Commission uncovered widespread brutality and corruption not only in New York City but elsewhere. The commission conducted a nationwide poll revealing that not only does the problem exist in both large and small cities across the country, but that a majority of U.S. citizens agree that the police disproportionately use excessive force against communities of color. Indeed, 53 percent of the respondents stated that they think police are more likely to use strong-arm tactics on Black or Hispanic suspects than against white suspects.
The N.Y.P.D. has informed ABC Eyewitness News that its Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating both recent Sunset Park cases.See also Videos Show New York Police Officers Beating Latino Man After Stop-and-Frisk