Police body cam footage was released late Wednesday showing what led up to an incident involving fare evasion that led to a man being tased by NYPD officers — and that has both police advocates and critics up in arms.
The NYPD tweeted video showing what happened leading up to a confrontation between police and a man at the 116th Street and Lenox Avenue station in Harlem on July 6. The man, identified as David Crowell, can be seen on the bodycam footage cursing at officers and refusing to leave the 2 train.
Police said the whole ordeal started after Crowell, who paid his fare, opened the emergency gate for someone else. When officers approached, that other man apologized and paid up, but police said that Crowell then started taunting officers. A criminal complaint stated that he threatened police with fists raised, saying "I'm going to rush you. F--- the police."
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Following that interaction, cellphone video showed the moment that Crowell was soon after tased by police. A woman standing next to him yelled at police for nearly hitting her with the stun gun accidentally.
"Response was above the top. That response was the textbook of police brutality," said Black Lives Matter activist Anthony Beckford, who shared the video on social media. (Beckford has no relation to NBC New York reporter Checkey Beckford.)
Jennvine Wong with the Legal Aid Society's cop accountability project said that even though a teas is considered non-lethal, Crowell could have been seriously injured.
"One thing I would note is the fare is $2.75. We have six salaried officers on here," Wong said. "The money spent would have been much better spent buying Metrocards for those who can't afford them."
But the Police Benevolent Association came to the officers' defense.
"Insults alone don't phase us, but when they cross over into threats of violence, we need to take action," PBA President Pat Lynch said. "If this individual felt bold enough to threaten a group of uniformed cops, what is he going to do to those straphangers once the train doors close?"
Crowell faces several charges as a result of the confrontation, including menacing, harassment and resisting arrest. Police also noted that he is a gang member with a criminal history, but that was not the reason for his arrest.
"All this is, is a character assassination," Beckford said. "They didn't approach him because he was a gang member, unless they can read minds."
Crowell is being represented by New York County Defender Services. They have not issued any statement.