A couple New York City police officers are under criminal investigation after being caught on surveillance video pistol-whipping a teenage marijuana suspect who appeared to be surrendering with his hands up.
The footage, obtained by DNAinfo New York, shows Kahreem Tribble, 16, at first jogging away from the officers. But as Tribble slowed to a stop, one of the officers is seen punching him in the face. As the teenager stumbles back with his hands up a second officer appears to smash him in the face with his gun.
During the Aug. 29 incident, police found 17 bags of marijuana on Tribble and arrested him for the drugs and for disorderly conduct. Tribble, who suffered cracked teeth and bruises, later pleaded guilty to a violation.
“What’s depicted on this video is troubling and warrants a thorough investigation,” Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn District Attorney, told DNAinfo. Thompson, in addition to the NYPD’s Internal Affair Bureau, has launched a criminal investigation into the case.
“The matter is under internal review,” said Deputy Chief Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman.
The NYPD said that one of the officers involved has been suspended and the other was placed on modified duty and relieved of his gun and badge. The department said it would not identify the officers because they have not been charged with a crime, but DNAinfo has identified the pair as Tyrane Isacc and David Afandor. The website identifies Afandor as the officer seen hitting Tribble in the face with his gun.
A third officer is seen in the video standing by, watching as the two other officers pummel the teen.
“Clearly, Commissioner Bratton has seen the video and reacted very aggressively in the sense of saying there have to be consequences when anything is done the wrong way,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday. “I see these videos as another piece of information that we need to use to improve the relationship between police and community and in many cases to heal the relationship between police and community.”
The recorded pistol-whipping is just one in a long string of recent incidents in New York City and across the country that has inflamed tension between the police and the communities they’ve been sworn to protect and serve.
In July, an officer in Staten Island, New York, choked Eric Garner to death minutes after accosting him on a street corner for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. His death was followed by other high-profile killings by police of unarmed black men in Ohio, Utah and Missouri.
On Aug. 9, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown after the officer stopped the teen while he was walking with a friend from a nearby convenience store. Several witnesses say Brown was fired on as he attempted to run away from the officer and that the fatal shots came as he was turning with his hands up in surrender. The killing sparked national outrage and protests and rioting locally.
On Monday, an Indiana couple filed a lawsuit against police after officers with the Hammond Police Department pulled their guns, smashed a window of the couple’s car and used a Taser on the unarmed passenger in the car. The couple says they feared for their lives and refused officers orders to exit the vehicle.
The incident, which began with a traffic stop for an unworn seat belt, was captured on cell phone video by a 14-year-old sitting in the back seat.