NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Bronx assemblyman claims he was handled roughly by a police officer when he tried to defuse an argument between officers and residents.
Assemblyman Michael Blake said he tried to calm a heated situation Saturday at the Morris Houses complex after observing a woman in handcuffs and another woman and man arguing with an officer.
He claims the officer bear-hugged him, lifted him and pinned him to a gate.
“Within seconds I was in a bear hug, and to my left tossed to the gate that is closest to the wall,” he said.
The incident ended after a superior officer recognized him, Blake said.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Blake had to fight back tears while reliving an altercation he had with police.
“When you work as hard as I do for my community and to be treated how I was on Saturday, you all don’t, you all don’t know how it feels,” he said.
The department said a sergeant and officer had responded to the dispute when Blake placed a hand on the sergeant’s shoulder without identifying himself. It says the officer had perceived a possible threat to the sergeant. They say he’s apologized to Blake.
Blake disputes the police account.
“We are not aware, nor do we recall, any physical contact happening between me nor the officer at all,” Blake told reporters on Monday.
Blake believes he was roughed up because of his race.
“Why was I tossed toward a gate for doing absolutely nothing wrong? No weapon, no threat,” Blake said. “The reality is this, I was a black man, I was seen as a threat.”
Blake has filed an excessive force complaint and demanded a meeting with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
“I would hope to hear an apology from Commissioner Bratton,” Blake said.
Bratton met with Blake, but did not apologize. He said the Civilian Complaint Review Board will look into the matter.
“There will be no apology forthcoming from me. We’ll see where the investigation goes from here,” Bratton said. “Right now a lot of it is he said, she said.”
For now, Bratton said the officer involved will not be punished.
“There is no action that has been taken against the officer, nor will there be,” Bratton said. “I have no reason to believe that the officer behaved in a significantly inappropriate manner. We will see what the investigation determines.”
Blake said the fact that community officers didn’t recognize their own elected officials brings attention to the need for more police training.
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