The Legal Aid Society is calling for charges to be dropped against a man arrested in Jamaica earlier this month, after newly released video shows an NYPD officer placing his knee on the man’s neck during the arrest.
The video echoes the arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests against police brutality over the summer.
The video shows Sircarlyle Arnold, 34, being arrested and held down by three NYPD officers, with one of whom appearing to have placed his knee on Arnold’s neck.
TW: This video shows NYPD officers kneeling on my client, Sircarlyle Arnold’s, neck in Queens, NY, while bystanders beg them to stop. This is eerily similar to what was done to George Floyd in May 2020 pic.twitter.com/5Tzxi6ShpT
— Olayemi, Esq. (@msolurin) January 6, 2021
The incident, which took place on Jan. 2, in front of 113-08 Sutphin Blvd., started when officers spotted Arnold allegedly operating an ATV illegally in the middle of the street, according to the charges.
Video of the arrest shows Arnold pinned to the ground with several officers on top of him as a nearby crowd begs the officer to take his knee off of Arnold’s neck.
The criminal complaint against Arnold makes no mention of the incident shown in the video, nor does it mention any struggle during the arrest.
“This video is merely a microcosm of the racist policing that Black and Latinx New Yorkers suffer on a regular basis,” said Olayemi Olurin, a staff attorney with the Queens Trial Office who is representing Arnold in court.
Chokeholds and tactics like it, including placing a knee on someone’s neck, were banned in New York City in July during the height off Black Lives Matter protests in the five boroughs.
“These officers’ first impulse was to employ an illegal, life-threatening knee-on-neck hold on Mr. Arnold,” Olurin said. “Not only should the case against Mr. Arnold be immediately dismissed in the interest of justice, but the NYPD must expeditiously terminate the officers involved, and DA Katz – upholding her promise to hold accountable officers who commit serious acts of misconduct – must bring charges. The Legal Aid Society demands answers and justice for Mr. Arnold, his family and his community.”
Arnold faces charges of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, aggravated unlicensed operator, obstruction of traffic, driving a motor vehicle on a sidewalk and possession of marijuana in Queens Criminal Court, where he first made an appearance on Sunday, Jan. 3.
Arnold, who was released on his own recognizance on Sunday, is scheduled to return to court on March 24.
“We are aware of the incident and it is under internal review,” a police spokesperson said on Wednesday afternoon.
The DA’s office on Wednesday afternoon said that they was aware of the allegations against the NYPD in the case.
“We are aware of the allegations against NYPD officers in the case of People v. Sircarlyle Arnold,” a DA spokesperson said. “Our Public Corruption Bureau is in the process of reviewing all evidence in this case, including the officers’ body worn camera videos.”
On Thursday, Jan. 7, the video had made its way to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said that he was “disturbed” by the scene.
“After George Floyd was murdered, we passed a law to ban chokeholds and kneeling directly on people’s necks,” de Blasio said on Twitter. “I’ve seen the video from a recent arrest and I’m deeply disturbed. A full investigation is underway and I demand immediate answers from the NYPD.”
This story was updated at 1:42 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.