Police from Brooklyn’s 79th Precinct are being accused of beating a gay man and using homophobic slurs in an incident, partially caught on an iPhone video, that took place over a week ago, The Village Voice reports. Josh Williams, 26, was identified as one of the victims. Williams said he was beaten outside of the 79th precinct around 4 a.m. on June 2 by police officers who made homophobic slurs.
As Williams and his friends, Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, were walking past the station house, Williams told them he had to pee, but was told to wait until they got home. An officer in the parking lot asked if Williams had taken a piss on the building, but Williams said no.
Williams and Collins approached the officer who told them to come over and asked them for ID. The Voice says when Collins asked if they were being detained, the officer “rolled his eyes and sort of snapped,” and allegedly twisted Williams’s arm behind his back and slammed him against a car. Williams also alleges he was pepper-sprayed.
The Voice also quotes Collins as alleging that the officer “put his hand on Josh’s neck and pushed his face into the hood of the car twice and pepper-sprayed him.” Collins says his friend “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.'”
The incident is currently under investigation by the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.