After a video of New York Police Department officers surrounding and tasing a Black man on a subway train went viral the department released body camera footage of the incident on Wednesday morning.
David Crowell, 29, was arrested on July 6 after allegedly helping another person avoid paying the $2.75 fare. Police said Crowell allowed a man to enter the 116th Street Station in Manhattan by opening an emergency gate for him.
“Look, first of all, I’ll state the obvious: Fare evasion is not acceptable. Whether you do it yourself, or you help someone else, it’s not acceptable, and, you know, from the – what I understand of the NYPD body camera footage, the individual involved was very aggressive, and in some ways, even threatening towards police, that’s just not acceptable either, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.
Body camera footage released by the NYPD shows Crowell standing inside the train car as officers surround him. ‘F-ck the police,” he said, as he continued to make offensive remarks and gestures that he began when the cops first confronted him on the train car about letting the other man in. He turned and lifted up his shirt, apparently displaying on a tattoo on his back, then told officers, “You bust that sh-t, Imma run you.”
Bystander video of the encounter shared to social media show Crowell and bystanders telling offices that he paid his fare. The footage has been viewed nearly three million times and shows at least seven officers surround Crowell on the train. “Yo, I paid,” he said. Crowell struggled with the officers until one deployed a taser, which struck him in the back and caused him to fall to the ground, screaming in pain. Other bystanders could be heard screaming and pleading with the officers during the ordeal.
A tweet from NYPD News Twitter page attempted to explain the incident from their vantage point, “Body-worn camera footage shows the man cursing at officers, refusing to exit the train, & threatening them. With additional officers on scene, the man continued to resist arrest, prompting the use of a taser. He was subsequently taken into custody.”
Mayor de Blasio said the footage needs to be looked at carefully. “The goal is to de-escalate. Clearly here we did not end up with a de-escalated situation. So, this needs to be looked at carefully to see what can be done differently going forward,” he said. The officer who deployed the stun gun has not been identified.
Crowell was arrested on charges that included resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct. The man police say entered the station for free paid his fare when confronted by officers.
“One thing I would note is the fare is $2.75. We have six salaried officers on here,” said Jennvine Wong with the Legal Aid Society’s cop accountability project. “The money spent would have been much better spent buying Metrocards for those who can’t afford them.”
Police union officials defended the use of the stun gun on Crowell. “On a daily basis, police officers are subjected to vile abuse by criminals who believe the anti-cop climate gives them a free pass. Insults alone don’t faze us, but when they cross over into threats of violence, we need to take action,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.