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There are conflicting stories about the arrest of a Copiague man after cell phone video surfaced, showing him screaming as police used a stun gun on him. Suffolk Police say he was resisting arrest, but witnesses say he had done nothing to warrant it. Greg Cergol reports
A Suffolk County man subdued by a police stun gun Tuesday claims he was the victim of police brutality, but police say they were justified in using a Taser.
Jeu Gonzalez, 21, was arrested outside a Copiague deli after police said he shouted obscenities at a female officer, then appeared to lunge at her.
Gonzalez claims the officers were the aggressors, and showed stun gun marks on his legs and stomach. Cell phone video shot by a friend of Gonzalez captured part of the confrontation, showing four officers atop the college student, who screamed as the stun gun was deployed on him.
"It was unnecessary roughness," said Gonzalez outside Suffolk District Court in Central Islip Wednesday. "I felt violated."
Suffolk County Police have confirmed that an officer administered at least three stun gun shots to Gonzalez, who was later charged with resisting arrest and harassment. Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was freed on $1,000 bond.
"This was abuse, abuse, abuse because we are Hispanic," Gonzalez' mother Lorena said outside court.
According to a police spokesman, a preliminary review of the confrontation found that the officers' response was proper and that the stun gun use fell within department guidelines.
"Obviously Gonzalez did not want to be handcuffed," said Suffolk Police Inspector Gerard Gigante. "The Taser was used to ensure he submitted."
According to Gigante, two officers were patrolling the area after a stabbing. The male and female officers heard shouting and saw Gonzalez use an obscene gesture, and feared another altercation was brewing.
When the officers confronted Gonzalez, Gigante said the Copiague man was agitated and threw his identification at the female officer. Gonzalez shouted obscenities at the officer, then appeared to lunge at her, prompting the male officer to grab Gonzalez, said Gigante.
Gonzalez said he had gone to the deli for food during a break from his job at a cell phone store. His obscene gesture, Gonzalez insisted, was directed toward a friend across the street from the deli.
When the officers confronted him, Gonzalez said the police directed foul language at him and he responded in kind. But it was the officers, he claimed, who escalated the incident into a physical confrontation.
"The male cop clothes-lined me into the car, grabbed me and we scuffled and went to the ground. I tried to comply with what he was telling me, but because of his force, I couldn't," said Gonzalez.
The incident remains under investigation, said police. Gonzalez is due back in court next week.
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