NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A nasty confrontation between three young gay men and police — which was caught on video — was the subject of an angry news conference outside One Police Plaza on Tuesday afternoon.
Gay rights groups and anti-violence activists, including openly gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-25th), denounced what they say is increasing harassment of the LGBT community by the NYPD, and called this latest incident unacceptable, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“It is the police’s job to defend our community, not to attack our community,” Dromm said.
“Why would I feel safe around the NYPD when they bully us and call us f***ots?” said activist John Blasco of the gay rights group FIERCE.
The men – Josh Williams, Ben Collins and Antonio Maenza – are roommates and are all openly gay. They claimed they were walking past the 79th Precinct police station, at 263 Tompkins Ave. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, when an officer accused one of the men of urinating against the station house and threw him against a squad car.
Maenza started shooting the video as Collins watched.
(Warning: Video contains profanity)
“He thrashed Josh around and was then joined by other officers who slammed Josh to the ground and pepper sprayed him,” Maenza said.
But police had a different account of what happened.
They said Williams was indeed seen urinating on a dumpster in the police station parking lot near the gas pumps. When the officer approached, the man was uncooperative and would not identify himself, police said.
When the officer tried to arrest the man, he was combative and appeared to be highly intoxicated, police said. He resisted arrest, and “force was employed” to arrest the man, which caused a laceration to the cheek and bruising, police said.
Police went on to say the other two men interfered with the arrest by trying to get between the suspect and the officers, and refused to leave police property when ordered to do so.
Williams and his friends claimed an officer used the word “f***ot.” However, their attorney, Cynthia Conti-Cook admits the anti-gay epithet is not audible on the video, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
“And I will perhaps in the near future get some A-V technology that will be able to, I don’t know,” Conti-Cook said.
But coarse language is heard from both the officers and the men they arrested.
Conti-Cook told 1010 WINS she intends to fight to have the charges against her clients dropped. The two friends were charged with obstructing governmental administration. She also said she would like to see the involved officers face criminal charges such as assault and filing a false report, since Williams denies that he was urinating and suffered some bruises and lacerations during his arrest.
“We did absolutely nothing wrong. What was done to us was wrong,” said Williams.
The NYPD said Internal Affairs is investigating, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“That matter is being investigated by Internal Affairs, also the Civilian Complaint Review Board are also involved in that investigation,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen the video and I think it’s appropriate to have it investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau.”
Kelly said at this time, the confrontation has not been classified as a bias incident.
“I think we will continue to look at the tape, but let’s let the investigation go forward,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
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