A police officer punched and dragged a homeless man who was allegedly taking up more than one seat on a near-empty subway train in Manhattan, body camera video from May shows.
But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is charging the bloodied man with felony assault, punishable by up to seven years in prison, for allegedly kicking the officer’s hand while the cop tried to cuff him on the platform of the Midtown station.
Joseph T., 30, who asked that his last name not be used because he fears retaliation, left a Manhattan homeless shelter with his belongings in a few tote bags. He got tired of waiting for a bed, huddled with others in the entrance area, he said.
It was around 12:30 a.m. on May 25, according to a criminal complaint, when police approached Joseph because, Officer Shimul Saha said, he was “occupying more than one seat” on the near-empty No. 6 train. Joseph left the car and moved to the next one.
Police followed him. Joseph, a hair stylist by trade, said he did not understand why the cops were ordering him to exit the train and refused, body camera video obtained by the Legal Aid Society shows.
“You can’t arrest me for not wanting to get off of the train,” Joseph says as police officers tell him he is holding up other riders.
One police officer, Adonis Long, reached out to get Joseph off the train, but Joseph batted his hand away. The officers said Joseph was “flailing his arms and kicking his legs” and had kicked Long’s right hand, the criminal complaint says. As a result, Long told Saha that “because of the swelling he is unable to open and close his hand without experiencing pain.”
Then, Long tried to pull him up, but when Joseph lurched away, Long punched him twice in the face, knocking off his glasses, and drags him off the train. He then kicks Joseph’s bags on to the platform.
It is not clear from the video that the Legal Aid Society released where Joseph kicked the officer’s hand. Long punched Joseph’s face two times with his right hand, which was the same one that was injured.
“We are reviewing the footage and continuing to investigate all aspects of this interaction,” DA Vance’s spokesperson Caitlyn Fowles said in an email.
UPDATE: Manhattan DA Vance’s spokesperson Fowles said DA was “provided with the available footage last night” and subsequently, Joseph’s felony assault charge would be dismissed.
The DA would offer an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) for the separate misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest, which would mean the case would be dismissed and sealed if he is not arrested for six months after taking the ACD.
She added “potential police misconduct” was also under review.