Pepper-Spray Cop Shows The Dark Side of NYPD

The video has been making its way around the internet and social networks. It was mentioned here this morning by Robert Stein. It’s worth watching…


James Fallows, usually a calm, cool observer, calls it Pepper-Spray by a Cruel and Cowardly NYC Cop:

He walks up; unprovoked he shoots Mace or pepper spray straight into the eyes of women held inside a police enclosure; he turns and walks away quickly (as they scream, wail, and fall to the ground clawing at their eyes) in a way familiar from hitmen in crime movies; and he discreetly reholsters his spray can.

The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police had used the pepper spray “appropriately.”

Fallows follows up:

On the video we can’t hear what either side is saying. But at face value, the casualness of the officer who saunters over, sprays right in the women’s eyes, and then slinks away without a backward glance, as if he’d just put down an animal, does not match my sense of “appropriate” behavior by officers of the law in a free society.

Think about it: If this were part of some concerted, “appropriate” crowd-control plan, then presumably the pepper-spray officer would have talked with the other policemen trying to control the women. He would have stayed on the scene; he had done something dramatic to affect a situation, so — again, if this were “appropriate” — presumably he would have talked with the other officers about what to do next. But look at that video and see what seems “appropriate” to you.

Police officers make countless hard decisions every day, often at the risk of their own safety or lives. It’s a harder job than I have. But everything about this scene suggests an officer who has forgotten about some of these hard choices. He just zaps ‘em and walks away as they scream.

Anonymous has identified the officer. But that’s not all:

The Internet vigilantes, using photographic evidence of Bologna on the scene and a close-up of his badge, wasted no time in putting together a file on the officer, including a possible phone number, addresses, and the names of his family members, warning ominously, “Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!!! Expect Us!”

Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner told us today that he was made aware of Bologna’s identity last night, but opted not to release it. “We hadn’t yet come to a consensus on how to approach the situation, which we saw as potentially volatile,” Bruner said. “To bring his family and his home into it is something I find personally unacceptable.” But make no mistake: Bologna’s actions were “demonic,” Bruner stressed, and now that the officer’s name is known, Occupy Wall Street is demanding the city take action.

Occupy Wall Street has posted three versions of the video. Their demands:

We demand that he is charged for his crimes. We demand that he receives jail time.

We demand that Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly resigns. Not only can he not control his most senior officers, he is involved in actively sheltering them from receiving any punishment.

We demand that Mayor Michael Bloomberg address our General Assembly and apologize for the police brutality and the cover-up that followed.

From an NYPD report on the use of pepper spray:

The NYPD’s Patrol Guide Procedure Number 212-95 governs the circumstances in which pepper spray can be used and the proper procedure for using the spray.5 The purpose of Patrol Guide 212-95 is “to inform uniformed members of the service of circumstances under which pepper spray may be intentionally discharged and to record instances where pepper spray has been discharged, intentionally or accidentally.”6

Patrol Guide 212-95 lists five situations in which an officer may use pepper spray. Pepper spray may be used when a police officer “reasonably believes” that it is necessary to: 1) protect himself, or another from unlawful use of force (e.g., assault); 2) effect an arrest, or establish physical control of a subject resisting arrest; 3) establish physical control of a subject attempting to flee from arrest or custody; 4) establish physical control of an emotionally disturbed person (EDP); and 5) control a dangerous animal by deterring an attack, to prevent injury to persons or animals present.

That via Digby, who earlier compared media coverage of Occupy Wall Street to that of the Tea Party on “tax day” in 2009. Guess what she found.

Occupy Wall Street has been protesting in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street since Sept. 17. About 85 people were arrested Saturday. Photos. A Queens Councilman supports the police:

“You certainly cannot take over a New York City street. That is a serious situation. We have emergency vehicles to get through, people have actually jobs to get to, unlike these protestors, apparently,” said Vallone. “And the police have every right to use the force that they deem necessary to arrest if people aren’t cooperating.”

John Cole on the protestors plight:

It’s easy to say that these are just (mostly) college kids with nothing better to do; or to make fun of their demands, which range from ending wealth inequality to ending war; or to use more extreme protesters to dismiss the rest. And it’s easy to believe that the protesters’ cause will be forgotten as soon as the demonstration ends. It’s easy to react this way, because that’s how many protest “movements” have panned out in the past. But this movement is different because of the bleak situation facing the country, especially its youth.

Demonstrations are stronger when protesters are denouncing a target that directly affects them. In 1971, President Nixon’s decision to end student deferments sparked a new wave of antiwar protests on campuses around the country. Many believe the lack of a draft severely weakened protests against the Iraq war. In 1932, the Bonus Army was able to gather thousands of veterans to Washington because their cause was not someone else’s poverty but their own.

Similarly, these demonstrators are protesting not only for a cause but for themselves. Just as many young people in the ’60s and ’70s feared becoming cannon fodder in Southeast Asia, so, too, do many today fear for their futures. The figures are astounding. Three years after Wall Street crashed the economy, youth unemployment stands at 18 percent, double the national rate, while youth employment is at its lowest level since the end of World War II. And because the graduate who spends a year unemployed will still make 23 percent less than a similar classmate a decade later, the young unemployed will feel these effects for years. The average college graduate now carries over $27,000 in debt at graduation; not surprisingly, then, more than 85 percent of the Class of 2011 moved back into their parents’ homes, the highest number on record. Not to mention, when this long recession is finally over, the young get to face reduced Social Security, Medicare and other benefits, largely (though not entirely, of course) because their parents and grandparents decided to let their descendants pay for their tax cuts, their wars and their bailouts.

Cole also points to a Business Insider perspective:

We decided to take a stroll through their encampment at Zuccotti Park this weekend and here’s some things we noticed:

Poor hygiene: While wandering through the camp site, I asked several people how long they’ve been there and if they’ve taken a shower. Some people said they would go to friends’ apartments to clean up. However a bunch of the protestors confessed to me that they have not showered since the start of the movement. In my opinion, the smell is extremely pungent. And the camp site is littered with trash, cardboard and garbage bags piled up.

Nudity: At least two women had their naked breasts exposed. Apparently, it is legal. (I asked a police officer nearby.) But there’s no question it’s inconsiderate. The site is surrounded by popular tourist destinations in the Financial District and there are tons of families with young children that frequent those locations.

Drugs: Another thing that caught me by surprise was the use of marijuana. I walked right by a protestor smoking weed in broad daylight. The police must have been just 20 feet away too. If you’re at a protest site surrounded by hundreds of police officers and trying to get out your important message out, then it’s probably not the best idea to light one up!

I was once and could still be a fan of NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Last night he was on 60 Minutes talking up the NYC counter-terrorism squad. He should take this seriously, start disciplinary procedures against the officer and use every diplomatic bone in his body to defuse the situation.

         

14 Comments

  1. Like I said earlier….where the heck is “Mr. Nice Guy” Republican Mayor Bloomberg?

    It’s his cops.

  2. From the limited content and view point it would be impossible to say the spray was used illegaly. There was at least one arrest going on at the time, the crowd was pressing in, I have no doubt that they were asked to disperse, pepper spray may very well have been not just legal but a good choice.

  3. Digusting and unacceptable. Even more disgusting that some would want to gloss it over and shirk the need for accountability.

  4. And who would that be JS? What is disgusting is someone passing judgment without acceptable evidence. Taking a bad angle snapshot as full representation of events.

  5. And who would that be JS? What is disgusting is someone passing judgment without acceptable evidence. Taking a bad angle snapshot as full representation of events.

    So here’s the question: over the past few years there have been dozens and dozens of vids on the internet showing police brutality in various forms and locations, some of them horribly cruel. And yet, the same answers always come forth: bad angles, out-of-context, half the story, yadda yadda yadda.

    Reasons? Or excuses to continue the denial?

  6. “Acceptable evidence”??? Open your eyes.

  7. Reasons? Or excuses to continue the denial?

    And I just saw one the other day when a station was running a follow up to a story of police “brutality”. They had gotten hold of traffic camera footage showing the wider scene and for a longer period and dang if the story didn’t look different.

    http://www.fox8.com/news/akron.....6248.story

    Then there was the case in Seattle where a cop was accused of brutality after a bar fight and it was latter discovered he was attacked because of his race. Yes the cop was a victim of hate crime.

    Here we have a post about a use of force during what has been, what a two week protest now, and had 80 people arrested in one day. I can see that they were trying to arrest someone and were using the “fence” to shield the arrest and that those inside the fence were yelling and pressing up against the fence. I can’t see how bad it was, if they had been warned, how many times, if there was anything thrown, spit, or what was yelled. Due to the angle of the camera I really have no idea what the officer saw. Guess what neither does anyone else that’s why I call BS on statements concluding anything. There is just not enough info from 30 seconds of bad video. If it was that bad then with everyone there seemingly holding a camera it shouldn’t be that hard to collect video showing that the officer was clearly in the wrong. When they do then fine but until then it’s BS.

  8. As we have seen on this site many times it is easy to jump to conclusions based on incomplete stories and edited videos (see Andrew Breitbart)so I think EEllis has a point. If there is nothing more to this story than what is shown though then the officer was clearly out of line.

    Some other thoughts-

    Internet vigilantes accumulating the names of Bologna’s family members? Not cool.

    What is with the orange fences? If the protestors are breaking the law throw them in the paddy wagon as they did with 80 other protestors that day. Using police to stand around holding flexible fencing seems as much of an under-reaction as the pepper spray was an over-reaction.

    The intent of pepper spray is to inflict pain without long term damage. Some people seem to be making more of this than it is.

    Who cares if the policeman walked away looking uncaring? Compared to his spraying the pepper spray that is very minor.

    According to OccupyWallStreet’s website their intent is to occupy Wall Street for a few months. They are choosing to use civil disobedience to make their point which is fine as long as they are prepared to handle the consequences. I am guessing there are some of them that welcome the publicity over this incident and were well aware police brutality might occur. That doesn’t justify brutality, but the level of indignation seems a little forced.

  9. I realized I didn’t finish my thought in my earlier comment.

    It’s really time that cops & PD’s got a clue and did some self-defense regarding civilian csurveillance. They need to a) modify their behavior to ease up on harsh treatment when not required, and b) have countermeasures like wider-angle cameras. Some PD’s are doing this with better dashboard cams and what-not, but they need to do better. This issue is only going to get bigger. And simply confiscating cameras on the scene is not tenable.

  10. LOL EEllis
    I have no doubt that they were asked to disperse, pepper spray may very well have been not just legal but a good choice.
    The women were behind orange police barricades. Where were they to disperse?

  11. The women were behind orange police barricades. Where were they to disperse?

    I’m not sure if you’re being disingenuous or just haven’t bothered to look. It’s a crowd of people who are there by choice demonstrating. If they are stuck because their companions make it hard/ impossible for them to comply with lawful orders then they put themselves there and having force used against them may be the result. I’m OK with that. But about this event no one was trying to leave so it’s a moot point. The people who go sprayed were pressing up against the fence looking at the arrest that was bing made. If they had backed away even three feet they would of been fine but all 4 people were right up against the fence. Finally they could of just headed away from the direction of the camera.

  12. What is with the orange fences

    My understanding is they were deployed to herd the crowds on to sidewalks and keep people moving. After the crowd turned violent they also started using them to clear spaces where they were trying to arrest someone.

  13. EE What do you call the police action at 11 seconds of the video? What is the orange mesh fence?

  14. What action? It appears the camera is trying to look at what I think is an arrest but the veiw is blocked by people. I see a movement that makes me think something may have been thrown in the direction of the police. And the barricade is still there as it was earlier and will be later. So?

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