2 NYPD officers suspended after videos of violence to protesters

A woman was seen shoved to the ground in Brooklyn in one video, and in another a protester had his face mask pulled down and was pepper sprayed.

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By Janelle Griffith

A New York City police officer who was seen on video shoving a woman to the ground at a George Floyd protest last week in Brooklyn has been suspended without pay. A supervisor who was on the scene will be transferred.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement Friday night that the New York Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau had concluded its investigations into the May 29 incident and a separate incident last Saturday in which a police officer was seen on video pulling down a man's face mask and then spraying the man in the face with pepper spray.

Both officers have been suspended without pay, and their cases have been referred to the Department Advocate for disciplinary action, Shea said. The commissioner did not identify the officers.

"While the investigations have to play out, based on the severity of what we saw, it is appropriate and necessary to assure the public that there will be transparency during the disciplinary process," Shea said.

He added that the incidents "are disturbing and run counter to the principles of NYPD training, as well as our mission of public safety."

Shea said the actions of these officers stand apart from the "restrained work of the thousands of other officers who have worked tirelessly to protect those who are peacefully protesting and keep all New Yorkers safe."

"Over the past week, as I've said on multiple occasions, we have seen several troubling incidents involving behavior from members of the department that the NYPD is actively investigating," Shea said.

In the last two weeks, New York police officers have repeatedly been accused of abusing protesters, including driving into a crowd and using excessive force to push them back. On Wednesday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams posted video on Twitter showing police officers in Brooklyn forcibly using their batons against peaceful protesters to get them to move down the street.

The woman who was filmed while shoved, Dounya Zayer, has said she was standing in the street protesting peacefully last Friday night when, without provocation, an officer walked up to her and told her to get out of the street. She said she asked why and that the officer then shoved her and called her a "stupid f------ b----."

The officer involved in the incident has been identified by elected officials as Vincent D'Andraia of the 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn.

Video of the encounter captured by Jason Lemon, a Newsweek reporter who tweeted the recording, quickly spread across social media. It had been viewed more than 14.1 million times by Friday evening.

At a news conference this week outside the Barclays Center near where the incident occurred, Zayer said she was shoved with such force that she flew out of her shoes, slamming her head onto the street.

"I am in pain. My head hurts. I haven't slept in three days. And I cannot stop throwing up," she said. "But I am trying everything in my power to hold myself together for the people who are depending on me to speak on the situation."

She said she was hospitalized and treated for a seizure and a concussion.

"He did this in front of his lieutenant and multiple other officers who watched me hit the ground. One even looked back to make sure I was still on the ground, and they continued walking," Zayer said Tuesday. "Not one officer tried to help me, and not one officer tried to stop the officer who assaulted me."

Earlier Friday, Oren Yaniv, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, said the DA was aware of the video and investigating the incident. Yaniv said the Brooklyn district attorney's office had been in touch with Zayer and her lawyer prior to Tuesday's news conference.

"We launched this investigation before anyone had made a call to us," Yaniv said.

At a news conference Monday in the Brownsville neighborhood where D'Andraia works, Representative Yvette Clarke and other elected officials called for his termination over what she has described as his unnecessary violence toward a peaceful protestor, as well as disciplinary action for his commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Craig Edelman, who she said witnessed the violence but took no action to intervene.

"We cannot let any bad apples remain in the NYPD," she said. "Because this kind of violence escalates to murder."

Representative Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement Monday, the only way to bring about meaningful change is to hold violent members of law enforcement accountable to the full extent of the law.

"There are good men and women in the New York Police Department and there are brutal ones," he said. "We should embrace those police officers with the heart to respectfully serve and reject all others."

Tom Winter contributed.