A police officer cuffing a man in Harlem pointed his gun at bystanders filming him, then later punched one of them in the face, according to witnesses and cellphone video.
"My man didn’t do nothing, just sat there recording because what they were doing is wrong," said Eric Worrell, the 17-year-old who recorded the incident. "The fact that he pulled the gun out on us was wrong too."
The officer has been stripped of his gun and badge, police said.
On Thursday evening, officers chased a man suspected of riding an illegal dirt-bike into a public housing project on West 134th Street. They struggled with him while making an arrest, witnesses said.
Worrell, Kalen Adams and Jenico Harvey were in front of the building, and began recording the altercation with their cellphones.
One of the arresting officers noticed them recording, pulled his weapon and pointed it at them while shouting at them to back up, video shows.
"I thought he was going to shoot," said Ronnie Pinkerton Jr., another friend who also recorded the incident. "First thing I thought, he was going to shoot."
Minutes later, a second video appears to show the same officer walk out of the building lobby and punch Harvey in the face before wrestling him to the ground and placing him under arrest.
"The cop was bypassing him, he could've just kept bypassing him, but just turned and hit him and wrestle him down for no reason," Worrell said. "It was crazy."
"He hit him for no reason, hit him real hard," said Pinkerton.
Harvey is described by friends as a college student who is back in the city for summer break.
Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York that the video did not show Harvey allegedly yelling, "I'm going to kill you," just before the officer reacted.
Still, neighbors who witnessed the scene or watched the video say the punch wasn't warranted.
"For him to just get punched in the mouth, corralled and apprehended like he's a piece of cattle of some sort, in a rodeo, just makes absolutely no sense," said state Assemblyman Keith Wright.
Officers were apparently in the neighborhood to bust people riding illegal dirt bikes, part of the NYPD's larger initiative to crack down on unlicensed drivers across the city.
A spokesperson for the NYPD said the incident is under internal review and didn't comment on whether there were any arrests in the case.