The Queens District Attorney's Office is investigating a weekend arrest where an NYPD officer was witnessed kneeling on a man's neck, a maneuver prohibited by city lawmakers following the murder of George Floyd, for over a minute.
Sircarlyle Arnold of Elmont, Long Island, was stopped by police Saturday 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 appears 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 in a Zoom interview.
Floyd, who was Black, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes while being recorded on video, even as Floyd pleaded for air. His killing led to widespread protests against police brutality and new legislatures in New York and several other states that addressed police use of force.
Olurin says there's another video of the incident but she does not have the video of the actual arrest, adding that the police should release body cam footage.
Arnold was charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving. It's unclear if anyone else was charged.
In an interview with NBC New York, the 34-year-old says 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 says he was tackled to the ground where an officer had his knee on his neck for more than a minute. He says 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 says he understand 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.
A spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz says the office is aware of the allegations against the NYPD officers involved and an investigation is ongoing.
"Our Public Corruption Bureau is in the process of reviewing all evidence in this case, including the officers’ body worn camera videos," the spokesperson said.
In a similar statement, NYPD spokesperson Detective Denise Moroney said the police department is aware of the incident and is reviewing the events that occurred.
Olurin added that several arresting officers were also not wearing face masks. She wants the officers to face disciplinary actions and wants the charges against Arnold dropped.