A Brooklyn man claims a police officer pepper-sprayed him and robbed him of more than $1,300 in cash when he tried to intervene as a friend was stopped by police.
Cellphone video captured the confrontation just after midnight Sept. 16 when Lamar Joye was walking through a basketball court with friends in Coney Island.
The NYPD said the officers in questions were given a radio call for a man with a gun in the area. They responded and stopped a man matching the suspect's description. That man -- Joye's friend -- acted belligerently and resisted, the NYPD spokesman said, and he was written up for disorderly conduct.
That's when Joye interfered, according to police, though his lawyer contends he was only questioning the officer's actions before he himself was slammed against the fence and patted down.
The video appears to show the officer reaching into Joye's pocket and taking out a large wad of cash. Joye shouts, "You see this? Taking my money, man, taking my money."
The officer then pepper-sprays Joye in the eyes before he runs away. When his sister, Latifah Joye, asked for the officer's badge number, she got pepper-sprayed, too. The other officers stood and watched, the video shows.
The video "very vividly depicts what appears to be the police robbing someone," said Joye's lawyer Robert Marinelli. "No arresting them, not someone who had committed a crime or done anything wrong."
Marinelli said the officer took $1,300 and never returned the cash, which Joye, a construction worker, had withdrawn for a night out with his wife to celebrate his birthday.
The NYPD says the officer, a 21-year veteran with no prior issues, only found $62 and a cellphone, which were later vouchered at the police precinct station.
"I think that the police thought probably Mr. Joye did not get the money honestly. And that they could get away with this and nobody would ever ask any questions," said Marinelli.
Joye was never arrested. His lawyer said he doesn't plan to sue the city, but simply wants his money back and for the officers to be investigated.
The NYPD spokesman said Joye never came to the precinct station to collect his money or phone. He currently has a warrant for a motor vehicle infraction, according to police. He also has a past conviction for shooting at a police officer in 1997, for which he served time in prison until 2010.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office said it was aware of the video and was thoroughly and actively investigating it.
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