NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office on Thursday was investigating an allegation that an NYPD officer stole more than $1,000 during an apparent stop-and-frisk in Coney Island.
The encounter at the Surfside Gardens public housing project on Sept. 16 was caught on cell phone video.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the video shows construction Lamard Joye, 35, being pushed against a fence and frisked by an officer. The video then appears to show the officer putting his hand into Joye’s pocket and pulling out a wad of cash, 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported.
The officer then pepper-sprays Joye and his sister, Lateefa Joye, as she argues with him, Montone reported.
Joye said the officer took $1,300.
“We are aware of the alleged incident and it is being actively and thoroughly investigated,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Lawyer Robert Marinelli — who represents Joye, his sister and a third man — told CBS News’ Crimesider that Joye was planning to use the money to celebrate his birthday with a night out with his wife.
“It was unprovoked,” Marinelli told Crimesider. “They [the officers] were in a bad mood and maybe they didn’t want to be questioned. They robbed and maced him.”
Marinelli claimed Joye did nothing wrong to provoke the officers.
“None of the officers stopped him or did anything,” he said. “If he had committed a crime or he had done anything wrong or goodness knows if he had done anything offensive somebody would have stopped him and said something.”
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
In an email to Crimesider, the NYPD said officers had originally responded to the scene to a report 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,]” a police representative said.
Marinelli said the incident began when Joye, his sister and the third man saw another man being “roughed up” by police. They yelled out “Is this necessary?” and Marinelli said that’s when an officer approached Joye.
But police said a 21-year veteran officer ordered Joye to back up, but he refused, so the officer frisked Joye with the intention of arresting him for obstruction.
Police said the officer did take Joye’s cellphone along with $62 – not $1,300 – and turned it in to the 60th Precinct.
Joye’s sister, a professional basketball player in Europe, was seen on the video asking the officer for his name.
“He would not let her see,” Marinelli said. “As she tried to see it, what happened was he pepper sprayed her in the face also. And then she also left without a ticket.”
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch released a statement to the New York Daily News saying, “A 35-second-long video does not provide enough information about a police encounter to come to any conclusion about what transpired.”
“The rush to judgment will leave this city with an impotent police department where police officers will be afraid to act and neighborhoods will be left to the mercy of the criminals,” Lynch told the paper, which first reported the incident.
The officer was not disciplined and remained on active duty Thursday.
Joye faces no charges in connection with the altercation. He does have five prior arrests, including one for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
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