NYPD cop suspended after shocking video shows him using 'chokehold' on black man just days after it was banned
New York Police Department suspended a police officer for performing a chokehold on a black man, only eight days after Governor Andrew Cuomo banned the restraining tactic. The man who was slammed onto the ground revealed his name as Ricky Bellevue. He had been standing along with two white men who were filming the officers and jeering at them on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach at around 8.45 am.
35-year-old Bellevue is seen being flung onto the floor on the bodycam footage with the police apparently putting the man in a chokehold. The NYPD announced on Sunday, June 21, that they had suspended the officer with no pay.
Click for video here. (Video contains profanity)
The officer who had used the apparent chokehold was identified as David Afanador, the New York Daily News reveals. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea released a statement and said, "Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay."
"While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary. We are committed to transparency as this process continues," Shea added.
A City Council candidate, Anthony Beckford had shared the video on Twitter and had claimed that the officers were "performing an Illegal modern-day lynching chokehold on a Black Man until he was unconscious. I demand his immediate firing & criminal charges for breaking the city & state ban. #DefundThePolice."
Click to see video here.
In the video, a bystander witnessing the incident is heard screaming at the four officers and saying, "Yo, he’s choking ‘em, let ‘em go!" One of the officers had his arm wrapped around the suspect's neck. Another man can be heard saying, "Yo, he’s out, he’s out, he’s out!" as the officer moves his hand away from Bellevue's neck. In a longer body camera video, the suspect, Ricky Bellevue, was seen taunting the police before grabbing an unidentified object. He then asks the officer "You scared, you scared?" Later on, an officer was seen tackling Bellevue onto the ground.
Bellevue's attorney, Lori Zeno spoke to the New York Daily News and said, "I want the officer who put him in a chokehold to be in the cell next to him. This guy should be charged criminally, and fired." Bellevue's twin brother, Ashley was seen getting visibly upset and distraught at seeing the video. "Those cops could have really hurt my brother. He couldn’t breathe. They could’ve killed him. In the video, I don’t see that he did anything?"
"The cops just jumped into action. He wasn’t a threat, he didn’t have a weapon. What are they (cops) practicing, what are they being taught? They could’ve treated him a little more fairly," he added.
The incident follows the case of 46-year-old George Floyd who died while being arrested by the Minneapolis Police. A now-former cop, Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd for around 9 minutes and refused to budge even as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and fired from his job. Three assisting officers who were also present at the scene were fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder. The death of Floyd sparked outrage and protests across the nation with people slamming police brutality.
As a result of Floyd's death, reforms in the police department came under heavy scrutiny and one among them was the use of the method the dreaded 'chokehold'. The New York City Council passed legislation Thursday, June 18, that would make it a criminal offense for officers to use chokeholds, which were banned by the NYPD’s patrol guide, in all situations and by barring officers from sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect’s chest and back during an arrest.