Police are investigating an arrest that was captured by a bystander in a pair of videos in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday night that showed a man apparently getting assaulted by several police officers and arrested for allegedly smoking weed in a park.
“I never thought it would happen to me,” said Fitzroy Gayle in one of the videos, who was stopped by a plainclothes NYPD officer from the 69th Precinct.
Fitzroy Gayle, 20, was on his way home from his second job when his mother Daphane Gayle called and asked him to pick up a few items from the store.
At some point, the young man met up with another man and went to 100% Playground near Glenwood Road and East 100th Street.
Anti-crime police officers in plainclothes observed the two men in the park smoking a lit marijuana cigarette, according to an NYPD spokeswoman.
“As the officers approached the individuals, they fled the location,” the spokeswoman said.
At some point, a young woman, who says she was on her way home from work and that she noticed the “undercover cop” and one of the suspected men with his back against a metal gate. She started recording.
“What crime did I commit? Tell me! What’s the problem?” the unidentified man asked the plainclothes officer while both of his hands were in the air. “I did not commit a crime.”
I’m walking home from work and this undercover cop was holding this man. The guy asked for the cop to identify himself, he ignore that. He asked what crime he commit, he ignore that too. I pulled out my phone. You can hear the guy screaming “I never thought it would happen to me” pic.twitter.com/YW2dI3g8fk
— Velvet (@TheVelvetRope__) March 5, 2020
The officer appears to ignore the man’s questions and radioed for backup. A gaggle of uniformed and non-uniformed police officers rushed over.
“Help me!” screamed the man as he is seen on the video getting thrown to the ground.
The first two-minute video appears to show some half dozen police officers tackle, knee, kick and stomp on the man while he’s on the ground pleading for help.
“I never been arrested a day in my life,” the apprehended man is heard saying in between cries. Meanwhile, more bystanders gathered and are heard asking for the officers to stop.
“Do you need me to call someone?” asked the woman — who identifies herself as “Velvet” — and who recorded the videos. She said she regrets not asking him for his parent’s contact information sooner, she posted later on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the man’s 58-year-old mother was calling her son nonstop when he did not get home at his usual time of 7:30 p.m.
“All I know is he was not dead when they took him away,” she wrote in a Twitter thread.
“Upon apprehension, one individual was arrested and the second individual was issued a summons,” the NYPD spokeswoman said. “This incident is currently under internal review.”
Just as Daphane Gayle was getting ready to go to her son’s friends house to make sure he was safe, her daughter in Florida called alerting her to the video that made it’s way from Twitter onto Facebook.
“My heart was racing. I couldn’t even speak. I thought they were going to tell me he was dead,” said Daphane Gayle, adding, “I kept looking at it and was saying to myself is this going to end like another Eric Garner situation.”
Garner was stopped by police in Staten Island and was seen on video grasping for his last breath as several officers attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Garner’s last phrase “I can’t breathe” became the battle cry for anti-police brutality rallies lead by activists and civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter.
Garner’s July 2014 death was captured on cellphone video. He was 43.
Daphane Gayle raced to the precinct at 2 a.m. she said, and sought answers as to why her son was being detained, to no avail.
“I waited and waited and waited, they couldn’t even tell me why he was there,” said Daphane Gayle who is traumatized that the video plays repeatedly on social media. “It wasn’t until someone told me to call Rev. McCall that they let my son go.”
Daphane Gayle said her son had bruises all over and his pants were ripped.
“This traumatized him and it traumatized me,” she said. ” I know the police are here to protect, but the way they were hitting him kicking him … he didn’t even have anything on him.”
Both New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea “have concerns” about the caught-on-camera arrest.
“I don’t like what I saw obviously — it’s not what we’re trying to do here,” said de Blasio at a press conference Thursday. “I don’t want any officer to stand on someone’s leg if they don’t have to. I want more communication between officers and the people they’re confronting.”
“When you have two people take off running — I’ve been in that situation myself — and you don’t know what you have. … we will have to take a look at the entirety of it,” said Shea. “The end is what concerns me. I’d love to have a different outcome where we wind up on the ground wrestling with somebody.”