BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK AND MELISA STUMPF
Sunset Park activists have released a video that they claim shows a New York City police officer “Groping, brutally body slamming then choking a teenager at the 45th Street train station in Brooklyn.”
The video was unveiled at a press conference held by La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park. In it, the teen, 19-year-old Sean Pagan, is seen being followed by the Transit Police officer, then pushed up against the wall and frisked. It is unclear what dialogue passes between the two, but, at one point, the teen squirms and the officer is seen thrusting him to the ground twice.
David Galarza, a member of the non-profit organization La Casita Comunal, filmed the incident.
Galarza said he was on his way home on Thursday evening, July 19, at around 9 p.m. when all of a sudden he saw Pagan being approached by an officer. He followed and captured what then transpired on video.
The video footage shows Pagan screaming out, “I am not resisting,” and questioning the officer, demanding, “What are you doing?”
“We believe the video is very clear,” said David Rankin, Pagan’s attorney. Pagan, he contended, “was complying” with the officer’s directives, and he asserted, “None of this [the officer’s actions] was justified. We are calling upon the NYPD to respect individuals.”
Pagan was charged with “resisting arrest” and “theft of services,” the latter for allegedly jumping the turnstile to enter the station, according to Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesperson, who sent this paper the following email statement.
“The subject, who has nine prior arrests and one subsequent arrest, entered the subway system without paying, refused to present ID when challenged, and resisted arrest when the officer attempted to handcuff him,” Browne wrote. “He was charged with theft of services and resisting arrest. His previous and subsequent arrests included criminal mischief, intent to damage property; making graffiti, aggravated harassment by telephone, and criminal contempt.”
Samuel Cruz, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, said at the press conference that he thinks that “it is not tolerable to fear the police more than you would fear a criminal.”
As a “black and Latino man,” Cruz believes the community must address the issue.
“We are going to start policing the police. This could be my child. It has got to stop,” he remarked. “It makes me sad that our people have to live this way.”
Pagan, who works at a factory making clothes, said he is, “Kind of mad about what happened. I was shocked.” He spent 24 hours in jail and called his mom, alerting her of his arrest.
“She did not believe me,” the teenager said. “If it wasn’t for the video, nobody would’ve seen it, and I would just be another kid [who this has occurred to].”
Pagan, who looked down as the video was playing during the press conference, said that “violence doesn’t solve anything.”
Additional reporting by Denise Romano