NEW YORK - The Schenectady Police Department said it was launching an investigation after a video showing an officer kneeling on a man’s head went viral.
Patrolman Brian Pommer, a 7 year veteran of the department, responded to a complaint at a home on Monday that a neighbor had damaged the tires of a vehicle and that the person calling had surveillance video supporting that accusation, police said.
The officer questioned Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud, 31, who the police said, moved to the back yard where the officer chased him, lost his radio, and then asked for a bystander to call 911 for assistance arresting Gaindarpersaud.
The police department posted on Facebook that its Office of Professional Standards was reviewing footage showing the arrest and that it was “committed to fair, impartial, and transparent investigations.”
Police said Gaindarpersaud never lost consciousness.
His father, Jaindra Gaindarpersaud, filmed the video that went viral and can be heard yelling, “What he's done to you?”
“At no time did the officer attempt to impair Mr Gaindarpersaud’s breathing or blood circulation,” said police in a statment. “The officer was alone and attempting to gain control of the continually struggling Mr Gaindarpersaud. The officer briefly placed his knee on Mr Gaindarpersaud’s head … only as long as necessary to get him handcuffed.”
Speaking to the Daily Gazette, Gaindarpersaud said he “couldn’t breathe” and that he blacked out when he was placed in the patrol car. “When I woke up, I was in Ellis Hospital,” he said.
Congressman Paul Tonko was among those to criticize the officer, saying he was “enraged and heartbroken to see this violence from a Schenectady police officer.”
Approximately 20 minutes into this video, Pommer approaches Gaindarpersaud. After a short exchange, he says “turn around, put your hands behind your back.” Gaindarpersaud, however, turns and runs in the opposite direction, pursued by Pommer.
Pommer then restrains him to the ground and repeatedly says “put your hands behind your back.”
Gaindarpersaud can be heard complaining, “my head”. Pommer appears to strike Gaindarpersaud several times as he continues to try to cuff him.
Police said they would divulge further information on their investigation Friday.