This seems to be the summer of the NYPD using excessive force. Thankfully, many of these incidents are being filmed by bystanders. That was the case on July 17 in Staten Island. It happened again days later at a family barbecue. Then it happened yet again in a Manhattan subway station. Now, let’s add another incident of the NYPD going overboard and injuring a suspect.
This time it was in Brooklyn — Bedford-Stuy, to be exact, which the NYPD calls a “problem area” — and the injured suspect is 32-year-old Jahmiel Cuffee. What was Mr. Cuffee’s crime? He was in possession of a “small amount” of marijuana. Oh, how scary!
When he was asked for his ID, Cuffee handed it over. Then an officer grabbed him and Cuffee struggled. This brought more officers, who wrestled Cuffee to the ground. Then, a man who is identified as a supervisor, began to pull his gun, thought better of it and, instead, grabbed his handcuffs. For some reason, he began to walk away then came back and made “a motion with his foot.” As he did this, onlookers screamed and shouted at him. The camera caught it all.
The man filming this on his cell phone, Gary Dormer, told a reporter from PIX11:
“He abruptly stomped on top of the gentleman’s head. He lifted his foot with excessive force and came down like he was stepping on an ant or a roach or something…” Dormer said that the officers were “aggressive from the start. It could’ve been anyone of us. He wasn’t doing anything wrong and the officer just stepped on his head.”
Tony Herbert, a community advocate, is working with the NYPD to investigate the incident. He thinks that the officer who stomped on Cuffee’s head should be fired.
“This officer cannot represent our community and work for us if he’s going to violate people’s rights.”
This is the third filmed incident in two weeks where NYPD officers are shown using excessive force to subdue a suspect. In every case, the suspect was doing nothing that merited such treatment. Prior arrest records can — and should — put officers on alert when confronting a suspect but it is not always an indicator of a suspect’s demeanor. However, this sort of brutality is not called for unless a suspect becomes violent. Nobody should have their head stomped on because they have a joint. Or be killed because they are selling cigarettes.
The NYPD says that they are looking into ways to “revamp their training.” May I suggest the first thing they revamp is their apparent desire to manhandle everyone they see? These officers are armed with guns, truncheons and tasers in case a suspect gets violent. There should be no need to beat the crap out of non-violent suspects. Not for a good cop.
Here is the report from News 12 Brooklyn: