A viral video of Nassau County police officers arresting a protester Friday in East Meadow has prompted the department to launch an internal affairs investigation into the incident, officials said.
The video, viewed nearly 7 million times as of this post, shows officers surrounding a protest organizer walking down the middle of a street while pulling an amplifier on wheels he used to lead the march. An officer walking in front of him then stops, prompting the protester to bump into him before the other officers tackle the protester to the ground and take him into custody.
“We have seen the video, we take every complaint seriously, and before we even received one complaint about this incident, we started proactively an investigation,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Monday.
The march was one of dozens held locally in recent weeks in support of nationwide protests sparked by a shocking video of a white Minneapolis police officer allegedly killing an unarmed black man by placing a knee on his neck and ignoring the victim’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Four cops were fired and charged in the death of George Floyd.
Curran noted that of the nearly 100 Floyd protests in Nassau alone that saw an estimated 35,000 participants, there were only two incidents resulting in arrests: Friday in East Meadow, and a week prior in Merrick. Two officers were injured in the earlier incident.
Suffolk County police have arrested two protesters marching on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, a man who tried to run over protesters on a sidewalk in West Babylon, and are investigating as a hate crime an incident in which a pair of protesters were assaulted in Smithtown.
The West Hempstead man, his brother, and a third man arrested in the East Meadow incident were charged with disorderly conduct and released on appearance tickets. The man in the video, Terrel Tuosto, who’s been protesting daily for two weeks, said he won’t be intimidated.
“The sentiment I heard while I was with police officers (in the holding cell) was, ‘You guys had your fun the last couple weeks, but playtime is over,'” he told CNN. “It could have gone a lot worse if there weren’t people and cameras there.”
Officials said police were just trying to keep people from getting hurt.
“Safety is always our overriding concern,” Curran said. “We want to make sure that we’re keeping the community and protesters safe, police safe, and the drivers on the road safe. So that is always our No. 1 concern.”