NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Shocking video shows an NYPD detective allegedly putting a Queens man in a chokehold, an action prohibited by the department, and repeatedly using a taser on him.
The disturbing footage shows police responding to a noise complaint on 206th Street near 10th Avenue in Inwood on July 14th. The chokehold on 33-year-old Tomas Medina lasted 23 seconds, according to his lawyer, before he was tasered.
“Almost cutting my client’s circulation and breathing off,” said Gurmeet Singh of the Legal Aid Society said. “He was put in a situation where it could be termed as life threatening.”
Medina’s lawyers, Singh and Cynthia Conti-Cook, say the case is disturbing on many levels.
“This is obviously an example of excessive force,” said Conti-Cook. “The officer here went straight for an aggressive body hold.”
Singh and Conti-Cook shared a picture of Medina’s back they say shows taser marks and bruises.
“Mr. Medina was unarmed and was not attempting to injure or hurt the officer,” said Conti-Cook.
Medina’s attorneys also charge the detective who used the chokehold, Fabio Nunez, has a history of violent actions amounting to $260,000 in lawsuit settlements doled out by the city.
The NYPD claims Medina refused to provide identification on request, resisted arrest and was consequently restrained. He was arrested on charges of assault and resisting arrest, and Nunez claims he bit his finger.
Medina’s attorneys refute the claims.
“Mr. Medina did not bite the finger,” Conti-Cook said. “The charges against Mr. Medina were fabricated to cover up the misconduct of the officers.”
The chokehold used on Medina was similar to the one Officer Daniel Pantaleo used to subdue Eric Garner in 2014. Garner said “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he died.
The lawyers are pleading with Commissioner James O’Neill to take action against Nunez and others involved.
“Investigate the actions of Detective Nunez, find out what happened with the body cameras,” said Singh. “How come we don’t have body cameras… and suspend Detective Nunez.”
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the NYPD said: “Despite officers’ continued attempts to deescalate the situation, the suspect continued to resist the arrest, leaving the officers no choice but to use physical force.”
“The suspect was eventually taken into custody uninjured, internal affairs is investigating,” the statement concluded.