Brooklyn, NY – The New York police officer seen kneeling on a suspect’s head in a now-viral cell phone video was trying to defend himself while arresting the man amid a chaotic crowd, according to the police commissioner (video below).
In an attempt to avoid arrest, the unnamed suspect threw cash in the air, causing a frenzy among bystanders, the New York Daily News reported.
“This was an arrest they made, or were attempting to make, where an individual decided that as he was being arrested he was going to take whatever cash I assume he had stolen and throw that up into a crowd, creating a chaotic situation,” New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O’Neill said during a press conference on Monday.
Two other suspects then fought with police in an attempt to help the suspect escape, Commissioner O’Neill noted.
The incident occurred on Dean Street in Prospect Heights on July 5.
The plainclothes officer had already wrestled the suspect to the ground when the bystander began recording the scene.
One officer knelt on the suspect’s head with his weapon drawn as other officers tried to subdue a combative suspect behind him, the video showed.
Cash littered the ground around them, and the officer ordered bystanders to back away.
“Yo! Get all that!” a man off-camera yelled. “Get all of the money, bro!”
The officer momentarily holstered his weapon, but drew it again a moment later as bystanders closed in on him while yelling expletives, the video showed.
“If somebody does not want to be arrested, sometimes it doesn’t look pretty,” Commissioner O’Neill said, according to the New York Daily News. "It’s a hard job.”
Two men were arrested as a result of the melee.
Carey Cruise, 29, has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny, disorderly conduct, obstructing government administration, and criminal possession of a weapon for the knife he was allegedly carrying.
Edwin Barreto, 26, was charged with resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, menacing, obstructing government administration, harassment, and disorderly conduct.
A third suspect, 21-year-old Natalie Urrea, was issued a summons for harassment and disorderly conduct.
You can watch cell phone footage of the scene in the video below: