New York City’s police commissioner passionately defended his department against complaints of racism after videos surfaced showing officers violently arresting people of color for violating orders to maintain social distance in public.
“I will push back strongly on any notion that this is business as usual for the NYPD, or that this is ‘racist policing,’” Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday at de Blasio’s news conference. “I think this could not be anything further from the truth.”
Some of the videos were “incredibly disheartening” and “frankly disturbing," Shea conceded. At least one confrontation is being investigated internally.
One video showed an officer pulling a stun gun on a black man and violently taking him to the ground. Another showed an officer punching a man in the head as he lay pinned to a sidewalk.
And Shea also acknowledged recently released police department data showing that more than 80% of people accused of social distancing violations by police have been black or Hispanic.
But he said that police officers and their families had received death threats “over 10-second videos" where officers were dealing with habitually violent people.
“They fight with their significant others. They fight when they go to court. They have open gun cases. They are gang members, and we expect our police officers to do the best they can. That is exactly what they are doing," Shea said.
The state attorney general on Wednesday called on the NYPD to publicly release its policies on social distancing enforcement and any detailed demographic data on related arrests or summonses.
With the Associated Press.