Internal Affairs and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office are investigating allegations that a white NYPD officer stole $1300 from a black man during a stop-and-frisk, then pepper sprayed him and his sister when they objected to the theft.
A brief cell phone video shows Lamard Joye being pushed against a fence by an unidentified police officer at a basketball court outside the Surfside Gardens housing project in Coney Island.
The events leading up to the theft are not recorded, but witnesses say that Joye witnessed officers roughing up another man, Terrell Haskins, nearby, prompting Joye to shout, “Is that necessary?”
As a group of officers closed in on the African-American construction worker, Joye said, “You see this?”
The officer reached into Joye’s pocket and removed a large wad of cash — about $1300 — from the man’s pocket.
“Gimme my money!” Joye said, prompting the officer to respond by instead blasting him in the face with pepper spray. An onlooker yelled, “How you gonna take his money,” and “That’s robbery!” before urging someone to get the officer’s badge number.
When Joye’s sister Lateefah attempted to learn that information, however, she found herself on the receiving end of a stream of pepper spray, as well. “I went to get his badge number and name,” Lateefah Joye, a former West Virginia University basketball player, told The NY Daily News. “I leaned over to see his badge. He pushed me away. I saw a two and a one and that’s when he pepper-sprayed me in my mouth and my whole face.”
“One of the most disturbing things about the video is the other cops standing around watching and doing nothing to stop the wrongdoing,” lawyer Robert Marinelli, who is representing the brother and sister, said Wednesday.
“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft. This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer deserving respect,” said Marinelli.
Joye had withdrawn the cash from a bank a week earlier because he planned to take his wife out to celebrate his 35th birthday the night his money was stolen from him. Happy. Birthday. To. Him.
Marinelli provided the video, along with pay stubs, visual evidence of Joye cashing his paycheck at a check cashing store, and bank records showing the withdrawal, to the Brooklyn DA’s chief civil rights prosecutor, according to The News.
“We are aware of the alleged incident and it is being actively and thoroughly investigated,” Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said in a statement.
“The incident was precipitated by a call of a man with a gun. When officers arrived at the scene, they encountered numerous people at the location. As a result of the allegations, the matter is under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau and Civilian Complaint Review Board,” according to a police spokeswoman.
Watch the video for yourself, below: