Queens DA Won't Prosecute Officer Seen on Video Kneeling on Man's Neck

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The Queens District Attorney's Office has concluded its investigation into the NYPD officer accused of kneeling on a man's neck, a maneuver prohibited by city lawmakers following the murder of George Floyd.

Sircarlyle Arnold of Elmont, Long Island, was stopped by police in Queens for allegedly riding an all-terrain vehicle with a group of others as part of a vigil for a friend who died, according to his attorney Olayemi Olurin. She says her client was not resisting arrest and was unarmed.

A video of the incident filmed by a witness appeared to show several people screaming at the NYPD officer to stop kneeling on Arnold.

"Despite the national, international outrage over George Floyd, despite the people hysterically telling him to stop, at not one point in the video did that officer lift his knee off Carlyle's neck," Olurin told NBC New York shortly after the arrest.

Authorities are investigating after video shows the arrest of a man by an NYPD officer who kneeled on the man's neck for over a minute.

District Attorney Melinda Katz on Friday announced her determination that the officer did no violate Administrative Code 10-181 during the Jan. 2 arrest. Through the investigation, Katz said her office consulted with medial experts, an NYPD expert in physical training and tactics, multiple officers, as well as Arnold.

"While I fully support the spirit of legislation that prioritizes police accountability and thereby promotes community engagement, the elements of AC 10-181 are not satisfied in this case. There is insufficient evidence of an unlawful method of restraint being used during the handcuffing procedure of Mr. Arnold," Katz said.

Arnold's attorney called the decision not to prosecute the officer "egregious" and a broken promise made by city officials to enact and uphold laws to protect New Yorkers.

"Katz said she supports the spirit of the legislation, but has no intention to actually uphold it. All these laws were passed in direct response to protestors. Here is the first incident to hold an officer accountable and they said no," Olurin said.

The district attorney's statement said there was no evidence that determined the officer "restricted the flow of air or blood by either compressing Mr. Arnold's windpipe or the carotid arteries on each side of his neck." 

“Neither did the evidence support a finding that air or blood flow were restricted by sitting, kneeling or standing on the neck in a manner that compresses the diaphragm,” Katz said.

Olurin said she knew of additional video taken of the arrest and demanded the release of police body-worn footage back in January. Included in the press statement from Katz's office was a link to the NYPD footage of the arrest incident.

In an interview after the arrest, the 34-year-old said he just was trying to have one last ride to honor his friend who passed away.

"A couple of families got together and got on our bikes and came to the candlelight and then just you know revved engines and just doing burn outs," Arnold said.

He recalled getting off his bike after he was blocked by an officer. That's when Arnold said he was tackled to the ground where an officer had his knee on his neck for more than a minute. He said he didn't resist because he didn't want things to escalate.

"I’m not trying to do anything to make these guys do anything more to me, you know what I’m saying?," he said. "I was just hoping everything works out great. That’s all, because it's a very scary situation and a lot of my friends were screaming."

Arnold said he understood what he did that led up to the arrest, but he also said the officer didn't care that what he was doing was also not allowed.

"He didn't care. He just stayed right there. I paid the consequences for my crimes, correct? What he's done, it’s illegal, correct? It's a crime, correct? So, why shouldn't he have to pay for, why shouldn't he be accountable for his actions?" he said.

Arnold was charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving. According to his attorney, prosecutors in the DA's office have agreed to drop the charges in the coming days.

An NYPD spokesperson said an internal investigation into the officer is ongoing.

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