NYPD Policy Under Fire After Release of Damning Viral Video


On Tuesday, The Nation published exclusive audio of an alleged encounter between New York City Police officers and a Harlem teenager, which reportedly reveals discriminatory implementation of the controversial "Stop and Frisk" policy.

In the clip one voice, who is described by The Nation as a plainclothes cop, asks the teen referred to only as "Alvin", "You want me to smack you?" and then later says, "Dude, I'm gonna break your f--in' arm, then I'm gonna punch you in the f--in' face." Alvin told The Nation that the incident, which reportedly occurred on June 3, 2011, was secretly recorded on his cell phone.

Paul J. Brown, the Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department wrote in an email to ABC/Univision that the matter was investigated last year, and has since been referred to another review board.

"Regarding the purported tape, the matter was investigated in June 2011 by Manhattan North investigations and wasn't corroborated after the complainant elected not to pursue the matter. When news accounts about it appeared again today, the department referred it to CCRB [Civlian Complaint Review Board] even though the complainant apparently did not."

The video represents one of the most recent and most damning attacks against the so-called NYPD "stop and frisk" strategy, which aims to reduce crime by stopping and searching those police consider suspicious. The practice has been labeled discriminatory by many civil rights groups, who point out that the overwhelming majority of stops involve minorities (84 percent) and do not result in the discovery of any unlawful behavior.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told the New York Times earlier this year that the stop-and-frisk tactic has succesfully reduced crime, but that they are "taking steps to ensure that stops are conducted lawfully."

The United States Supreme Court holds that in order to frisk an individual, a police officer must have "reasonable belief" that the individual is "armed and dangerous." 88 percent of stops made last year did not lead to an arrest or a summons, but in roughly half of all stops, police officers said they had "enough reasonable" suspicion to make stops, according to the New York Times.

Last year alone, city officers stopped almost 686,000 people.


UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stated that the NYPD did not respond to a request to comment. The article has since been updated to include a statement they provided to ABC/Univision.