The New York City Police Department is under fire after residents at Brooklyn’s Pink Houses accused officers of using a banned choke hold Monday on a teen who seemed to be having some type of seizure during the encounter.
Witnesses identified the teen as 17-year-old Zavon Hodges. According to the New York Daily News, a large crowd gathered outside shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday after cops stopped the teen, who began trembling in the housing complex’s courtyard.
In video of the incident, onlookers can be heard slamming the cops for their actions, the Daily News notes.
“Why do you put somebody in a seizure in handcuffs?” one bystander asks a group of officers.
“Yeah, but they choked him,” another woman said as she was being moved away by police.
Zavon’s family stood by the seizure claim after witnessing the arrest. His sister, Shaunte Greene, 25, said that panic triggered Zavon’s reaction.
“They choked him because they thought he was resisting arrest. He was just panicking,” Greene said.
Instead of helping the teen, police handcuffed him and dragged him to a nearby tree, Zavon’s cousin says.
“They all hopped out of the van and started choking him,” Joseph Agnew, 19, said. “He fell to the floor and started shaking; he was having a seizure and they put cuffs on him.”
The NYPD refuted the claim, saying that no choke hold was used; nor did the teen suffer from a seizure. Officials say the cops were responding to a call about a man with a firearm when the teen started “running and threw himself on the ground before faking a seizure,” the Daily News reports.
Cops say they called an ambulance just to be safe, saying that there was nothing medically wrong with Zavon.
The 17-year-old has since been charged with disorderly conduct and criminal possession of marijuana.
Read more at the New York Daily News.