A video has been released by cop watch group El Grito de Sunset Park that allegedly shows officers from the 72nd Precinct arresting a Sunset Park family with what the family’s supporters claim is excessive force and without probable cause from in front of their home on Friday, September 4.
The video was screened at a press conference held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 411 46th Street, on Tuesday, October 20. In attendance were the Acosta family, founder of El Grito de Sunset Park Dennis Flores, civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel and former Assemblymember Javier Nieves.
Flores contends that the Acosta family — who are seen in the video being dragged off their stoop and into police cars by the officers involved — was unfairly arrested in the aftermath of an incident in which they were not involved. “They have been targeted by police in this community,” he said.
According to Flores, a call made to the police on the date of the incident due to a minor fight among young people in the area triggered the arrest. “When the cops got there a half hour later,” he said, “the altercation was over. Cops ran to the stoop of the family and aggressively went after people that weren’t even involved in the incident. One of the women was grabbed by her hair and pulled down a couple of steps. Her son Darrell was also dragged down and arrested.”
“We were cleaning out my mother’s apartment,” recounted Marisol Acosta. “We went to sit outside. They approached us and didn’t show badges. They just said, ‘You just had a fight and you’re coming with us and they started hitting us.” According to Acosta, she was assaulted, as were three nephews including one toddler, and her mother, grandmother and sister.
“They just started hitting me and dragging people down without explaining themselves,” Acosta added. “An officer grabbed my arms and smacked them to the back and my elbow snapped back. Another officer grabbed my nephew down the stairs. They came back and started pepper-spraying another person.”
Darrell said he was surprised when cops came to him. “I was with my family when they approached me,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong. The officer started hitting me in the face and dragged me to the floor.”
This is not the first time the Acosta family has had an encounter with police. Twelve years ago, they said, cops also arrested members of the family at the same location. At the time, Darrell was playing with fireworks in the front of their home. “The grandmother put her hands up and she was beaten up, dragged into the paddy wagon and charged with felony assault on an officer,” said Flores. He added that the family took the cops to court. “They went to trial, won the trial, showed they were innocent.
“We believe this is a pattern with the 72nd Precinct,” Flores went on. “It’s important to organize in this community and put pressure on the Police Department and put forward videos. This is why we cop watch. We see officers repeating the same behavior with no discipline.”
Like Flores, Siegel said the footage was disturbing. “The video is very troubling. The only thing it should be used for is in the academy in order to show people not to do things when interacting with the community,” said the Brooklyn native. “We have had problems over the last few years with the 72nd Precinct and with specific officers more than once.”
This time round, cops arrested three of the family members on charges that include burglary, assault and resisting arrest. However, Siegel believes there were no grounds to charge them with any of the crimes, including resisting arrest.
“You can only have a resisting arrest if there’s a valid arrest. Without it, you can’t have resisting arrest,” he said.
The family denies all charges.
Contacted for comment, a spokesperson for the NYPD told this paper only, “The incident is currently under Internal Investigation.”