Some police officers were caught on cellphone video trying to handcuff a nearly naked woman who apparently has breathing problems. The NYPD says she was resisting arrest. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Only in her panties, surrounded by officers, Denise Stewart and her family can be heard in a cell phone video saying she can't breathe as police officers try to arrest her.
"I can't breathe," Stewart says in the video.
"She's asthmatic. She needs air," says another person.
This incident happened in Brooklyn on July 13, four days before the deadly encounter between police and Eric Garner on Staten Island.
Police say they received a call that Stewart's 12-year-daughter was beaten by Stewart and Stewart's 20-year-old daughter. Stewart's lawyer say the police are lying to hide their actions against a woman who has breathing problems.
"They kept on shoving her until she passed out. You see her when she is laying on that ground. She fainted, and then she came to shortly thereafter," says Amy Rameau, Denise Stewart's Defense Lawyer.
Police say they removed the woman's daughter from the apartment and placed her in a police van where she kicked a window out.
The video shows she was already in handcuffs when she was taken out of the building.
The lawyer says this is the same 12-year-old girl police say they came to rescue from abuse. Police report the girl had bruises, but sources tell NY1, the Administration for Children's Services didn't find any and she was returned to her mother.
The Legal Aid Society represents the 12-year-old and questions the officers handling of her mother.
"This is another example of police overreaction and physical abuse of a member of a minority community," says Seymour James of the Legal Aid Society.
The family says police maced them with pepper spray.
"A four-year-old baby—they sprayed him in the face. A female cop," one man says in the cell phone video.
"The information that I have is that the officers in the case were supposed to have been responding to a 911 call related to an apartment on one of the above floors," Rameau says.
This case is being investigated by the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
Meanwhile, four members of the Stewart family are facing charges including child abuse and assaulting officers.