Officials say NYPD Officer Joel Edouard has been placed on modified assignment on Friday after cell phone video was released showing him apparently stomping on a suspect's head. The video surfaced just days after Eric Garner died while being arrested by New York City police in Brooklyn.
According to the New York Daily News, police sources say Jahmiel Cuffee was being apprehended by Edouard, 36, and several other officers around 8 p.m. on Wednesday after police allegedly saw the 32-year-old roll a marijuana joint on the street.
In the video, Cuffee can be seen struggling with the officers as they attempt to force him to the ground. In the background, onlookers can be heard saying the man had done nothing wrong and asking why the officers were arresting him. Once on the ground, one officer can be seen placing his hands close to Cuffee’s neck as Edouard straddles his body in an attempt to subdue him. Cuffee continues to struggle with the officers, at one point screaming, “Help me!”
A female onlooker can be seen walking up to Cuffee's side. She then attempts to tell him to calm down as one of the officers appears to instruct Cuffee to “stop resisting.” A third officer then walks into the frame and tells the woman to back up as Edouard and the officers maneuver Cuffee onto his stomach. “Help me!” Cuffee can be heard yelling several more times, though he looks to stop struggling under the weight of the three officers.
Officer Edouard can be seen walking away from Cuffee, who is still being held on the ground by the officers. He then returns and appears to kick Cuffee in the head while the man is being held to the ground with his face angled down toward the pavement.
In the video, witnesses can be heard yelling in anger and screaming in shock as they witness the officer’s actions.
“What is wrong with this officer?” one man said. “Look at your officer! You see that?”
Cuffee was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for injuries to his neck and head. He was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and pot possession, officials said. On Friday, officials said that Edouard had been reassigned to desk duty and turned over his gun and shield.
Wednesday’s incident is the latest in a string of arrests that have raised concerns about NYPD officer’s use of excessive force when attempting to subdue suspects. Last week, 43-year-old Eric Garner died while being arrested by NYPD officers. He was placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo during the arrest and became unresponsive as he was being forced to the ground.
That arrest was also captured on the cell phone of a witness at the scene. Pantaleo has been put on desk duty and the NYPD has launched an investigation into the incident.
On Friday, Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and two federal prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office. During the meeting, she requested that the Justice Department launch a civil rights investigation into her husband’s death.