Video appears to show Schenectady cop kneeling on man's neck

Video appears to show Schenectady cop kneeling on man's neck

WNYT Staff
Updated: July 08, 2020 02:08 PM
Created: July 06, 2020 05:45 PM

Protestors gathered outside the Schenectady Police Department after video surfaced of an officer kneeling on a man's neck Monday morning.

Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud says officers punched him in the stomach and bruised him on his own property.


“If he had me like five minutes more I would have died because I started to lose my breath,” Gaindarpersaud said Monday evening in front of the police station.
Legacy Casanova organized the protest.

“This is exactly what happened to George Floyd, and he lost his life and for it to happen right here is unacceptable,” Casanova said.
Police say they were called to Brandywine Avenue around 9:30 a.m. to investigate a tire slashing that was part of “an ongoing neighbor issue.” According to the complainant, the neighbor did the damage.

Gaindarpersaud said he was in his backyard watering plants when the responding officer came over to speak with him, claiming there was video surveillance of him committing the crime.

“He started to get angry with me and said, ‘You don't know what I'm talking about?’ And I said, ‘No, I don't know what you're talking about,’” Gaindarpersaud said.

Gaindarpersaud told the officer he wanted to see the evidence and turned to go into his home.

“Then he run and grabbed me, threw me on the ground with his whole body and his knee on my neck, on my brain, hold my head with his hand and smashed it to the concrete along with his knee,” he said.

Gaindarpersaud says he lost consciousness when he was thrown into a police car and woke up at Ellis hospital.

Gaindarpersaud's father, Jaindra Gaindarpersaud, shot the video.

“He's not breathing, he's not moving. If you look at him you're able to see, he's not moving,” he said Monday evening.
Like his son, Jaindra Gaindarpersaud, is now calling for the officer to be fired.

“I don't feel safe…no I don't feel safe with these cops. I don't feel safe,” Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud said.

The police department says they are “committed to fair, impartial, and transparent investigations. As soon as the investigation has concluded or more information can be released in regards to the incident, it will be made available.”

The department is aware of the video, which they say partially depicts the incident.
They're asking anyone who saw what happened or has more video to contact the department's office of professional standards who are handling the investigation.

Schenectady Police released the following statement:
At approximately 9:38 am an officer from the Schenectady Police Department was dispatched to the area of 332 Brandywine Ave for a report of a vehicle that had its tires slashed.  Once on scene, the officer made contact with the complainant who stated that there has been an ongoing neighbor issue and that a male neighbor had damaged tires on his vehicle. Additionally, the complainant stated to the officer that he had video surveillance of the incident.  

The officer made contact with the male suspect and began to interview him in regards to the slashed tires.  During the interview, the officer decided to detain the male for further investigation.  As the officer reached out to detain the male, he pulled away from the officer and fled on foot into the backyard of his residence.  A brief foot chase and struggle ensured during which the officer lost his radio and asked a nearby witness to call police.

Additional responding officers arrived on scene and were able to assist the original officer and ultimately place the male into handcuffs.

The Department has been made aware of a video circulating on social media partially depicting the incident.  The incident in its entirety is currently being reviewed by the Schenectady Police Department's Office of Professional Standards.  We ask that anyone who witnessed the incident or has video footage to contact the Office of Professional Standards.  

The Schenectady Police Department is committed to fair, impartial, and transparent investigations.  As soon as the investigation has concluded or more information can be released in regards to the incident, it will be made available.

Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford released this statement on Tuesday:

Yesterday, July 6, 2020, a photo and video was shared on social media depicting a portion of a longer encounter during which a Schenectady Police Officer arrested a male at 332 Brandywine Avenue.  Upon learning of the photo and discussing it with Mayor Gary McCarthy, an internal probe was initiated by the Schenectady Police Department Office of Professional Standards.  The body worn camera of the officer involved was accessed immediately and reviewed, in addition to the partial video shared on social media.  Later that day a statement was released by the Schenectady Police Department with the commitment to conduct a fair, impartial, and transparent investigation.  

The fair and impartial investigation began with an immediate contact to the Schenectady County District Attorney to seek assistance with the evaluation of all video footage and the assessment of any violations of New York State Penal Laws or executive orders.  Multiple videos were viewed by members of the Schenectady Police Department command staff, including myself, in addition to representatives for the district attorney.  The investigation plan was discussed, and an evaluation of the entire incident was initiated.  The Schenectady Police Department is committed to sharing the officer’s body worn camera video with the public soon, as early as tomorrow.

At this time limited information can be substantiated, and it would be premature to draw conclusions until the entire incident and all evidence can be reviewed.  Along with Mayor McCarthy and Commissioner Michael Eidens, I have determined that it is important to get some known facts communicated to the public immediately.  

Mr. Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud did resist arrest, both actively and passively.  The goal of law enforcement during a combative encounter should be to gain control of the subject, situation, and achieve custody, without causing injury.  At no time did the officer attempt to impair Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s breathing or blood circulation.  The officer was alone and attempting to gain control of the continually struggling Mr. Gaindarpersaud. This officer briefly placed his knee on Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s head to maintain control of the subject while calling for help and giving repeated commands to Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s family to back up.  During this engagement the officer gives multiple commands to “put your hands behind your back”.  The officer holds the head of Mr. Gaindarpersaud to the ground only as long as necessary to get him handcuffed and immediately releases it once backup officers arrive.  During the interaction Mr. Gaindarpersaud remained vocal and never loses consciousness.  Once handcuffed Mr. Gaindarpersaud walks on his own to the police car, and once at the police car makes an attempt to break free from custody.  He is then placed into a police car and immediately driven to police headquarters.  Mr. Gaindarpersaud remained conscious for the ride, the officer providing transport spoke to him and called medics en route to the police station to evaluate Mr. Gaindarpersaud.  Upon arrival at police headquarters Mr. Gaindarpersaud was conscious and immediately evaluated by Schenectady Fire Department paramedics then transported to Ellis Hospital for treatment.  

The Schenectady Police Officer was dispatched to 332 Brandywine Avenue to assist a victim to seek justice for damage done to his property.  Incidents that involve resisting arrest are never standard, and many times result in injury to the arrestee and the officer involved.  The release of a partial clip of video and a photo unfortunately tend to drive a wedge between the community and police.  I would ask that at this time the public be patient with the current probe and trust that once all information is reviewed the appropriate action will immediately be taken by this agency.

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