KEY POINTS

  • NYPD officer suspended without pay for “alleged chokehold”
  • Video shows black suspect taunting officers before a scuffle ensued
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for swift discipline

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has announced the suspension of a New York police officer for the alleged use of an “apparent chokehold” caught on tape.

The department’s action was noticeably swift, occurring just hours after the confrontation on a beach boardwalk at Queens.

Video of the incident shot by one of the men involved showed officers tackling a black man with one of them putting an arm around his neck while he was face-down on the boardwalk.

Someone on the video intervened by yelling, “Stop choking him, bro!” The officer loosened his grip afterward.

The incident comes as the United States saw massive protests after the death of George Floyd, who died when he was allegedly choked by an officer with a knee during his arrest in Minneapolis.

New York state has already banned the use of police chokeholds since the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who died when officers put a chokehold on him when they attempted an arrest.

In a statement, Shea said immediate action was necessary even while a full investigation was still underway.

“Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay,” Shea said.

Body camera footage of the incident was released by the New York Police Department, showing the events leading up to the incident at Rockaway Beach.

Three men were seen on camera interacting with police, occasionally taunting officers and calling them names.

A black man later identified as Ricky Bellevue, 35, approached officers and taunted them. A law enforcement source described to CNN that the man was saying “I’ll throw sh— in your face” and “touch any of my boys and you’ll be dead.”

His companions tried to intervene and asked him to stop but the taunting continued. Officers tried to ask the man to step back and observe social distancing.

A scuffle ensued after Bellevue pulled out a plastic bag and approached officers, who moved in to arrest him. Bodycam footage showed the arresting officer eventually remove his arm from Bellevue’s neck after a colleague told him to stop.

In a tweet, de Blasio commended the officer who intervened and said he wanted to see it from all NYPD officers.

“The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing,” de Blasio said.

He also praised the police department for the swiftness of the action, saying it was the fastest he has seen the NYPD discipline its officers.

“This is how it needs to be,” de Blasio said in a tweet.

The officer has not been publicly identified but was suspended without pay. Bellevue was reportedly treated at a nearby hospital for lacerations.