QUEENS, N.Y. - The Queens District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute a man who was apparently placed in a chokehold by a police officer during an arrest for disorderly conduct over the weekend.
“There must be zero tolerance for police misconduct,” a spokesperson from the office said in a statement. “We take these allegations very seriously and an active investigation is underway.
A bystander caught the incident on camera Sunday morning on the boardwalk in Rockaway Park. Cell phone footage shows four officers attempting to arrest Ricky Bellevue, who is Black, and was allegedly harassing people on the boardwalk. Officer David Afanador put Bellevue in what appears to be a chokehold – until another officer tapped him and convinced him to let up.
A few hours after the incident, the NYPD released body camera footage from the arrest. It shows Bellevue and two other men taunting and cursing at officers. They tackled Bellevue to the ground after he appeared to grab something out of a trash can and asked officers if they were scared.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea suspended Afanador without pay Sunday evening, and said that a full investigation is underway.
According to Bellevue’s lawyer, the chokehold was an example of excessive force that left him injured, with a gash on the back of his head that “took all of his hair off and all of his skin off.”
This incident comes amid ongoing protests – in New York City and nationwide – after George Floyd was killed by a Minnesota police officer who held him in a chokehold.
Just nine days prior to Bellevue’s viral arrest, Governor Cuomo signed a state law that states officers who injure or kill a person using a chokehold can be charged with a felony.
The City Council also approved a bill that would charge police officers with a misdemeanor for using a chokehold, regardless of injury.