A man by the name of Joseph T. was charged with felony assault for an altercation he had with an officer in New York City, The City reports. Newly released body camera footage shows the officer attacking the man and punching him.
Joseph T. is a 30-year-old homeless man. On May 25, he was riding the subway towards Brooklyn when New York City police officer Adonis Long and Officer Shimul Saha approached him because he was taking up more than one seat. The pair ordered him to leave the car but Joseph T. refused to leave because he was trying to get to his destination. "Why am I holding up a train when I'm sitting on here when I'm going to Brooklyn?" Joseph can be heard saying in the footage. This moved Long to attempt to grab him. Joseph responded by slapping away his hand. Once T. did this, Long decided to stand him up and punch him in the face.
"Why are you fucking hitting me?" Long asks. He was then pushed off out of the car and against the platform wall. Long is also seen kicking T.'s belongings across the ground.
While he was against the wall, the officers pepper-sprayed him. T. fell to the ground in agony during which they handcuffed him even though he told them that he was having a panic attack.
After the altercation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance believed that T should be hit with a felony charge that is punishable by up to 7 years in prison. The motive behind this is Long's claims that T. kicked his hand while they were trying to arrest him.
"[Long] sustained swelling and substantial pain to the knuckles of his right hand and was transported to the hospital," Saha said in a criminal complaint. "He informs me that because of the swelling he is unable to open and close his hand without experiencing pain."
Shortly after body cam footage was obtained and publications began covering the incident The Manhattan District Attorney's office released a statement saying they will "dismiss the Assault charge"against the man. They also said that they were "provided with the available footage last night" and that they will consider dismissing the other charges, Gothamist reports.
It should also be noted that T. was initially arrested for resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, and another violation. But, these charges were upgraded by the DA's office because he "responded to [police] with violence."
People are now rallying behind T. A staff attorney at Legal Aid’s Manhattan Trial Office, Edda Ness, says that the officers' actions were "indefensible."
"The brutal attack on Joseph by these officers is both unconscionable and completely indefensible," Ness said.
People want all the charges against T. dropped, the DA removed, and the officers fired as well as arrested.