Officials are calling for an investigation after a video surfaced of Freeport village police officers beating and using a stun gun on a fugitive who allegedly resisted arrest this week.
When police tried to arrest Akbar Rogers at his home on Tuesday, he ran away through several backyards before officers captured him, officials said. 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.
“I have viewed the video and have many questions,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I call for an independent investigation of this arrest by the Freeport Village Police. At this time, I am asking all to remain calm and patient as the investigation unfolds.“
Freeport Village Mayor Robert Kennedy asked Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office “to look into the matter,” a village spokesman said. A Singas spokesman said, “we are reviewing the matter.”
The incident comes as former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his ex-deputy are on trial in Central Islip federal court for allegedly covering up a disgraced police chief’s beating of a handcuffed suspect.
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 last month, authorities said.
He was arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead on charges of harassment as a violation, misdemeanor resisting arrest, and felony assault with intent to injure a police officer. He is being held at Nassau jail and has not posted bail, records show.
The 58-second-long video shows several officers taking Rogers to the ground while other officers later arrive on the scene. Some of the officers punch Rogers repeatedly. Another kicks him while he’s on the ground.
Rogers is heard pleading for help in the video. The woman who filmed it is heard yelling at police. The video sparked outrage online as the footage quickly spread across social media.
“The video, taken by a bystander, clearly shows Akbar lying face down on the ground, pinned down by four officers, as two or more officers take turns punching and tasing him repeatedly,” the advocacy group Justice League NYC said in a statement. “Viciously beating a restrained man is a clear case of brutality exercised by white officers who have no fear of repercussions. When we see examples of white criminals who pose a threat to others —including police — being taken into custody without a scratch, time and time again, it makes it very clear this lack of accountability only applied to black and brown people.”
Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D-Freeport) and Legislator Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) issued a joint statement in response to the incident.
“We are thankful that the district attorney’s office is reviewing the arrest captured in this video,” they said. “We are deeply concerned by the contents of this video and believe a comprehensive, independent investigation is essential. As that process unfolds, we ask for the public’s patience as investigators perform their duties and establish the facts of the case”
Shawn Randall, president of the Freeport Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the village police department’s members, issued a statement backing the officers.
“The Freeport Police Benevolent Association stands behind our officers and the safety and security of the residents we serve,” he said. “I am confident that when the judicial process is complete and all facts are presented, it will be confirmed that our officers did their jobs in accordance with the law.”