MANHATTAN — NYPD officers repeatedly punched a homeless man, dragged him off a train, threw him to the floor of a Manhattan subway station and pepper sprayed him, bodycam video released Wednesday shows.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has charged a homeless man with assaulting an officer, despite body camera footage showing how cops punched, pepper-sprayed, and held his neck on the ground for allegedly taking up more than one seat on the subway car.
30-year-old Joseph, whose full name isn’t being used because he fears retaliation from police, left a Manhattan homeless shelter with his belongings in a few bags.
At around 12:30 am on May 25, according to a criminal complaint, officers had confronted him for taking up more than one seat on the near-empty No. 6 train. Joseph left the car and moved to the next.
“Step off the train,” an officer can be heard saying on video. “You’re holding up the train for everybody. Step off or I gotta drag you off.”
Joseph asked them how he was holding up the train and refused to get off.
When officer Adonis Long reached out for Joseph’s arm, the man pushed Long’s hand away.
Video shows Officer Long repeatedly punch Joseph in the face. Long and Officer Saha dragged Joseph off the subway car.
Joseph’s glasses flew off his face in the struggle and he was thrown to the ground.
One officer pulled Joseph over to a wall while the other kicked his belongings off the train.
Police told him to sit down and then pepper sprayed him in the face when he didn’t immediately comply.
Joseph turned to the wall and covered his eyes; and started crying.
Video shows Joseph, face bloodied, struggle with police while on the floor.
Video then shows Officer Long holding him down with a hand on his neck.
“I’m having a panic attack, please,” Joseph can be heard saying. “I’m sorry. Please, guys, you’re killing me.”
Joseph was taken to a local hospital on a stretcher.
He was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and taking up more than one seat on the subway.
In a statement after publication, The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said that after the DA was “provided with the available footage last night” that prosecutors would “dismiss the Assault charge” and offer an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal for the remaining charge, which the Legal Aid lawyer said was inadequate.