TW: Violence - Brooklyn police beat gay man, use homophobic slurs, victim & friends say
June 10, 2013
A 26-year-old gay man was beaten eight days ago just outside Brooklyn’s 79th Police Precinct by police officers who made homosexual slurs, the victim and two of his roommates who witnessed the incident tell the Voice.
The encounter, which took place around 4 a.m. on Sunday, June 2, and is under investigation by NYPD Internal Affairs, erupted after an officer standing in the precinct parking lot mistakenly accused one of the men of urinating on the side of the stationhouse, and then called in as many as 5 other cops to join in the assault.
Williamsburg waiter Josh Williams [pictured above], 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, suffered a laceration on his face that required four stitches, bruised ribs, a black eye, and scrape on his torso. Williams and his roommates—Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, both 24—were then arrested on specious charges in what they call an effort to cover-up the attack. Maenza made an iPhone video of a portion of the incident.
The Voice has also learned that NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau started investigating after someone apparently associated with the precinct filed a complaint.
“This case is so extreme in how the encounter escalated so fast over something so silly and turned so violent,” says Williams’ lawyer, Cynthia Conti-Cook. “Based on how the incident started, there’s very little to justify such extreme action other than homophobia.”
Williams moved to New York from San Francisco fairly recently. He told the Voice in an interview Friday, “Thinking about it right now, I’m feeling very shaky. I’m a wreck—confused, angry—over the fact that people who are supposed to protect me did this to me for absolutely no reason.”
Williams’ ordeal began as the three men walked past the 79th Precinct stationhouse at 263 Tompkins Avenue. Williams told his roommates he needed to take a piss, but they told him to wait as they were almost home. An officer standing in the precinct parking lot shouted at them, asking if he had just urinated on the building. Williams said, “no.”
“The officer shouted, ‘Did you really just piss on the precinct?’” Collins says. “Josh says no. The officer didn’t go over and check whether the building had actually been peed on.”
The officer called them over. Williams and Collins complied, and the officer asked for their ID cards. Collins asked whether they were being detained. “He rolled his eyes and sort of snapped, twisting an arm behind my back and slamming me against a car,” Williams says. “I was able to ask him what was going on, and he slammed me against the car and pepper-sprayed me. I was blinded and disoriented.”
Collins: “He put his hand on Josh’s neck and pushed his face into the hood of the car twice and pepper-sprayed him. Josh never tried to resist or run away.”
Williams says he remembers then being tossed against a fence and then a number of officers putting their hands on him. “I get slammed to the ground and cuffed and then pepper-sprayed again. I remember yelling, ‘Why are you so angry?’ From there I don’t remember much.”
Other officers shoved Collins backward several feet and called him a “fucking asshole.” “Josh was picked up and slammed on his face into the sidewalk and maced again,” Collins says.
Maenza was watching the incident from the sidewalk and videotaping with his phone. “Josh is on the ground, he’s surrounded by officers, he’s been maced, and they pick him up and take him into the precinct,” he says. “At that point, one of the officers called us ‘faggots.’”
Collins recalled that the officer called them, “fucking faggots.”
Handcuffed, temporarily blinded, and bleeding, Williams was dragged into the stationhouse, and left in a holding cell. He was given a charge of resisting arrest. It took several hours for a paramedic to arrive to treat his injuries and by then, his wrists had swelled alarmingly.
While he was finally in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, he says an officer remarked, “We better not tell him where the soap is.” After he was treated, he was taken back to the precinct, where he was fingerprinted and sent to central booking. He was arraigned at some point the following day, Monday, June 3, more than 24 hours after the initial encounter.
Rewind to the moment just after Williams was taken, handcuffed, into the precinct. Maenza says cops told him and Collins to go home. He mentioned to one officer that he had recorded the incident on his phone. “We don’t get halfway down the block when six or seven cops surround us,” he says. “I’m asking, ‘Are we being detained?’ They handcuff us, and take us into the station, and one of the cops says, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll find something to charge you with.’”
“I believe they arrested us because when the last officer who called us faggots, Tony told him that we had the incident on video, and I’m sure he relayed that information inside and they then decided to follow us outside and arrest us.”Collins says he was slammed against a parked van and handcuffed. “I asked repeatedly what we were being charged with, and I wasn’t able to get an answer.
Full article (including video)