What to Know
- Hundreds of police officers have been injured over the course of NYC's nearly two weeks of protests over George Floyd's death, officials said
- Officers have been hit in the head with bricks, smashed with glass bottles and seen their department-issued vehicles go up in flames
- Protesters have been hurt as well amid the clashes; a 28-year-old NYPD cop became the department's first to face criminal charges related to police actions during the demonstrations
More than 350 NYPD officers were injured over the course of nearly two full weeks of citywide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker told the city council this week.
Several officers have been hospitalized for a range of injuries from being hit by a car to being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during an arrest. One officer was hit over the head with a brick so forcefully it cracked the cop's riot helmet. In another case, an NYPD sergeant was hit on the head by a glass bottle someone threw near Fifth Avenue and 15th Street. That officer needed 10 stitches to close the gaping laceration on his head.
Most of the hurt cops have been bloodied amid clashes with protesters but avoided more serious injuries. Given the fact that Molotov cocktails were thrown at both empty and occupied police vehicles early in the protests, and that a number of NYPD SUVs were torched by other means, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said it was a matter of luck that no cops were hurt worse or died.
The same could be said for a number of protesters, some of whom found themselves thrown to the ground by police vehicles that pushed through barricades as tensions escalated. One 20-year-old woman was hospitalized with a seizure and concussion after video showed an NYPD officer shove her to the pavement, where she smacked her head, amid a protest at the Barclays Center on May 29.
The 28-year-old officer in the Barclays case was charged Tuesday with assault, harassment and other crimes in connection with the shove. He became the first NYPD officer to face criminal charges over the recent unrest. His lawyer, Stephen Worth, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but the police union blasted the charges and accused NYPD brass of throwing him under the bus.
Also on Tuesday, another NYPD officer was put on modified duty amid an investigation into a separate May 29 incident in Brooklyn where the cop allegedly opened the door of an unmarked vehicle, striking a protester. That case has been referred to the proper officials for disciplinary review, the NYPD said.
Another NYPD officer was suspended last week after being seen on video pulling a protester's protective mask down from his face and pepper-spraying him near Barclays Center.
Multiple videos of other police encounters remain under investigation with the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. The state attorney general is also expediting an independent investigation into the most violent encounters. The Civilian Complaint Review Board reported 633 complaints against police since the start of the protests in New York City compared with 533 for the whole month of April.
Still, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan put out a video on Wednesday for all city police officers, reflecting on everything that has happened over the past two weeks.
"Hold your heads up high, you did your job. There will be investigations but we will get through this together," Monahan said in the video. "Together as a police department, and together with millions of New Yorkers who truly appreciate you and who need you each and every day on those streets."
Investigators have accused extremist groups of fueling the late-night mayhem early on, undermining rightful protests. Mayor Bill de Blasio credited his nearly week-long curfew and a partial traffic ban with helping stem that violent tide.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested since the first night of protests in New York City on May 28, which started amid national uproar over Floyd's death three days earlier. Floyd was laid to rest in Texas Tuesday. The now-fired officer seen on video kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds is being held on $1 million bail, facing charges including second-degree murder. A number of officers seen standing by as Floyd lost his life have also been arrested.
The local protests have prompted a number of sweeping reform bills and calls to defund police departments. On Tuesday, New York state lawmakers repealed a decades-old law that has kept officers' disciplinary records secret.
Wednesday marked the fourteenth consecutive day of protests in the city, and demonstrators said that their goal is continue marching every day until they see real change enacted by City Hall or other government bodies.
In what has been a rare occurrence in the city, one group of protesters was met by a belligerent man in Manhattan as they marched uptown, yelling at the group and telling them they were on his property. He struck one of the protesters in the face, but it didn't escalate and the crowds moved on.