A plainclothes NYPD officer and Saykou George (in red) in Harlem on July 1, 2015
YouTube screenshot

On Wednesday, Saykou George, 30, took out his wallet to present his ID to a plainsclothes New York City police officer in Harlem, and things took a turn for the worse—very quickly. 

In cellphone video of the incident, George and the police officer exchange words as George gives his license to the officer. A few seconds later, the two men begin to push and shove each other. George attempts to leave, and the argument between him and the officer escalates into a boxing bout right in the middle of the sidewalk, with the officer throwing punches at George, who at first tries to avoid the punches and the officer's advances.

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The officer appears to land a blow to George's face. The officer and George square off again and again, while the officer's partner, a female officer, attempts to grab George's hands from behind in order to subdue him. A few seconds later, at least four cops arrive on the scene and bring George down to the ground and arrest him.

George's friend Jun Ice told WABC-TV that he whipped out his cellphone and started to record the incident because he felt that something about the officer's conduct was inappropriate.

"The cops instigated the whole situation," Ice said. "We weren't arguing, we weren't fighting, we were just walking home. There was no reason for them to stop us."

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Ice can be heard screaming in the video, "This is some bulls—t, man! This is some bulls—t!"

Police say that the officers initially stopped George because he had a knife visibly clipped to his pants pocket. 

Police Commissioner William Bratton said that the internal-affairs unit is looking into the incident but that at first glance he didn't see anything alarming about the officer's actions. 

"My preliminary review, I saw nothing inappropriate with the officers' behavior," Bratton said. 

Read more at WABC-TV.