Updated: 02/18/2014 9:05 PM
Created: 02/18/2014 6:29 PM WNYT.com
By: Kumi Tucker
TROY -- 30-year-old Karif Burns of Troy was arrested Monday and charged with felony attempted robbery of a police officer.
Describing cellphone video he took the night of the melee at Kokopelli's nightclub in Troy, he says the crowd was calm, but not sure about what was going on.
Burns was there when officers struck Rashawon Donley using what they call "standard pain compliance techniques."
He says by then, people were screaming.
"I got hit myself," said Burns. "I felt like one of the officers tried to knock the camera out of my hand. So I got hit in my shoulder. I had my arm up the whole time. I got hit on my shoulder."
Burns says a familiar face hit him with a nightstick.
"I'm pointing at him, I'm yelling at him, like, I know you, I went to school with you. Why are you hitting me?"
But Troy police point to nightclub security video to show the charges are warranted.
Burns is charged with attempted robbery, a felony, for allegedly trying to take an officer's baton. He's also facing a misdemeanor obstruction charge.
He says he had actually made an effort to keep the crowd calm that night.
"When they came there, they didn't give direction in terms of controlling the crowd. So what crowd-control mechanism was used aside from hitting people with their nightsticks?"
The melee resulted in nine arrests so far, and accusations of police brutality.
Attorney Terry Kindlon is handling two cases unrelated to Kokopelli's that allege excessive force and false arrest at the hands of Troy police.
He says his office is getting new complaints about Troy police, about one every day.
"That doesn't mean that the claims are sufficiently serious to support legal action, but they are certainly indicative of the fact that something, something very peculiar is going on in the city of Troy with the police department," said Kindlon.
Kindlon says lawsuits against the city and police have consequences; they could cost taxpayers a lot of money in judgements and settlements, and he says a few bad apples reflect poorly on all the good officers in the force.
Troy police would not comment on any pending lawsuits.