Charges were dropped Tuesday against a man in a viral video showing Freeport village police officers punching him while taking him into custody last year.
A Nassau County judge dismissed charges of resisting arrest and assault again Akbar Rogers, although he still faces charges in a warrant that led to his arrest. Nassau prosecutors also declined to prosecute the officers involved, but suggested the Freeport Police Department conduct a disciplinary review of the arrest.
“While an independent expert found the level of force used to be justified by law and policy, Mr. Rogers did not attempt to harm the police and the officer’s injury that formed the basis of the second-degree assault charge was not intentional,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “While there was probable cause to charge Mr. Rogers with resisting arrest because he dropped between two fences while running from officers, I have concluded based on the totality of the circumstances these charges should not be pursued.”
When police tried to arrest Rogers at his home in December, he ran away through several backyards before officers captured him, officials said at the time. The video shows multiple officers punching Rogers and using a stun gun on him during a struggle. Police said he refused to surrender and kept reaching for his waistband.
Rogers had a warrant out for his arrest for driving without a license, was wanted for allegedly harassing a victim in October, and is accused of fleeing police in a Mercedes at speeds of more than 100 mph while driving through red lights, stop signs, and on the wrong side of the road when police tried to pull him over in November, authorities said.
Singas said although the use of force was legal, she called on New York State leaders to study the issue of police procedure while taking suspects into custody. She added that she found the language that officers used problematic.
“The abusive language depicted in video of the incident, with an officer responding to Mr. Rogers’ assertion that he could not breathe with ‘fuck you,’ and calling him a ‘piece of shit’ is reprehensible and warrants discipline,” she said.
Rogers has since filed a $25 million lawsuit against the police department. The arrest video has sparked numerous marches demanding justice for Rogers. The rallies regained steam in the wake of the George Floyd racial justice demonstrations sweeping the nation.
“One day, the physical injuries Akbar Rogers sustained – his broken wrist, the tears to his shoulder, the contusions to his head, face, body and legs, his concussion and the taser burns – will heal,” Randy Zelin, Rogers’ attorney, said. “But the damage to his faith, his trust and his sense of right and wrong will not heal – just as our faith, our trust and our notion of justice has been torn asunder and cannot be restored until prejudice and discrimination directed towards a fellow member of the human race simply for the color of their skin is obliterated.”