Last week video surfaced of a plainclothes New York police officer punching a boy while other officers attempted to handcuff him, and now, according to news reports, that officer has been suspended.
According to CBS New York, the incident occurred Monday shortly after school let out. Police were responding to a report of a person having been assaulted with a cane and were arresting two youths when a plainclothes officer went over to one of the boys, who was being held down by three officers, and began punching him.
A videotape of the incident appears to show the officer, identified as John McDevitt of the 7th Precinct, holding off on swinging on the boy as onlookers begin screaming. "He is 12!" a woman can be heard shouting. The New York Daily News notes that the charges against the boys were dropped before the video was released Wednesday on YouTube.
According to CBS New York, the young man was not 12, but has been identified as 16-year-old Denzel Funderburk.
"An individual that we have identified as a plainclothes anti-crime officer runs up and appears to strike the individual with a closed fist twice on the side of the body," New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton told CBS New York during an announcement made Friday. "That officer has been suspended pending the investigation going forward."
Police-procedure expert Robert McRie, a professor at John Jay College, told CBS that he doesn't understand why the officer punched the young man, since there was no justification for the blow. "There doesn’t seem to be any legitimate reason for it," McRie told CBS. "The arrestee was pinned up against the hood of a car, he wasn't moving at the time the blows were delivered and he was in no position to escape."
As the young men are being taken away in handcuffs, a woman's voice can be heard on the video telling the officer: "You need to get a different profession. Go to war; this is not a war."