The New York City Police Department is facing renewed allegations of police brutality after a Latino man said he was beaten by a pile-on of police officers in the Bronx.
The incident occured three weeks ago, but video footage of the attacks only came to light on Monday.
Surveillance and private cell phone videos both show the same images: about half a dozen officers surrounding 23-year-old Santiago Hernandez, tackling and pummeling him to the ground. While the surveillance footage was mute, cell phone videos captured the sound of Hernandez asking the officers why he was being arrested as five of them beat him with billy clubs, punched, pepper-sprayed and kicked him.
“Miss what you doing?” he was recorded shouting to a female police officer. “You are hurting my arm!”
Officers stopped and frisked Hernandez on the pretext of a noise complaint. Hernandez said he had been waiting for a friend outside a building. Even though nothing was found on him during the search, the officers put handcuffs on him. After he asked why he was being arrested, several other officers arrived and surrounded him. Hernandez told local news station ABC 7 what happened next.
“They was taking turns on me. One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes, he punches me, he steps back. And another one comes, he grabs my arm, hits me like 10 times with the baton. Another one comes, pepper sprays me. They was taking turns on me, like it was like a gang."
The gang comparison comes at a time when New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” policies, which were instituted purportedly to combat gangs, have come under fire by human rights groups who have linked the majority of stop-and-frisk actions to racial profiling.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, in the first half of 2014, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 27,527 times. Eighty-two percent were innocent, 53 percent were black, 28 percent Latino, and only 12 percent were white. Since the N.Y.P.D. began publishing its Stop and Frisk data in 2005, the statistics show that 85 percent of those stopped by the police are black and Latino. Those groups make up 59 percent of the city’s population.