Special Prosecutor Sought In Bronx Police Beating
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man who was videotaped being kicked and struck by NYPD officers refused to cooperate with the Bronx District Attorney’s investigation Monday and requested the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Lawyers for Jateik Reed, 19, of the Bronx, told him not to sign an agreement that they said would allow him to be questioned by investigators from the office of District Attorney Robert Johnson.
They noted there had been an array of recent police violence cases and said police and prosecutors were too close to investigate each other.
“Our position is that Robert Johnson’s office cannot conduct a real and independent investigation because that office has a symbiotic relationship with the Police Department and could not be impartial,” said defense attorney Gideon Oliver.
The district attorney’s office released a statement saying prosecutors were talking with the defense attorneys, and, “We believe that at the end of the day, they will be comfortable with our ability to fairly handle this matter.”
Reed is being held on assault and drug charges in the Jan. 26 fracas that was caught on video and posted on the Internet.
The video appears to show Reed resisting arrest by kicking and swatting at a group of officers. Then it shows him being struck with police batons and kicked. One officer holds him down.
Reed’s lawyers say he suffered serious injuries.
The footage also shows one of the officers turning and aiming pepper spray at the videographer. The video does not show what led to the confrontation.
Four officers were stripped of their guns and badges and placed on desk duty after the video emerged on the Internet. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the video troubling and said the confrontation would be investigated.
The video surfaced during a week in which police killed three suspects, one of whom was unarmed.
“What happened to Jateik is symptomatic of a much bigger problem,” Oliver said. “Here, police brutality happened to be caught on video, but there are plenty of cases where this goes on unchecked and without that kind of witness.”
The NYPD did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
On Thursday in the Bronx, a narcotics officer fatally shot an unarmed suspect, Ramarley Graham, 18. The officer and his sergeant have been stripped of their guns and put on desk duty while the shooting is being investigated.
On Jan. 26, an off-duty NYPD officer killed a carjacking suspect during a shootout in Brooklyn. And on Jan. 28, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old after, police say, the teen and another suspect hit the officer with a cane and tried to rob him in Brooklyn.
Neither of those officers was put on restricted duty.
Reed was in court Monday for a bail hearing. Although the judge refused to lower the $10,000 bail, Reed was released Monday afternoon.
Another defense attorney, Michael Warren, said he would ask Johnson to defer to a special prosecutor, perhaps appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Oliver said Reed denies all the charges, including marijuana possession.
“Our investigation shows the allegation that Jateik had drugs on him or threw drugs away from him are fabricated in order to create a post-hoc justification for the beating,” the defense lawyer said.
He said they also deny charges that Reed stole a cellphone from a woman on Jan. 20.
Warren said that complaint was signed the day after the videotaped encounter.
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