Roosevelt Island Peace Officers accused of abusing power

May 22, 2013 2:41:12 PM PDT
Some young, minority males living on Roosevelt Island say they're being targeted for doing nothing wrong by the very people who are supposed to protect them.

"They grab me, pick me up off my seat, and throw me to the ground," Adrian Gordan said.

"He take my arm and my jacket and he slams me face first to the floor," Anthony Jones said.

Jones and Gordan were arrested at different times by Roosevelt Island Peace Officers, but their claims of excessive force are similar.

"They're choking me, kicking me and I'm yelling you're breaking my arm, you're breaking my arm," Gordan said.

"I don't understand why I was getting hit more. I'm already in handcuffs, already maced, already feel blood dripping from tooth," Jones said, adding he did not resis. "I gave myself up. I walked to him."

Both of them also needed surgery for their injuries. Gordan for his shoulder and Jones spent 8 days in the hospital for fractured ribs and a punctured lung. During that time, he was handcuffed to the bed. Their arrests are similar in one other way: both had their charges dropped.

"They've been abusing their power and they've been doing it because no one is policing these guys. They have no accountability," Jones said.

Last December. Jared Francis walked into this store after he and his friends who were standing outside were told by Peace Officers to disperse. He ends up being arrested for disorderly conduct.

Michael Lamonsoff/Attorney: " A lot of them live in fear of these public safety officers. In fact, they live in fear of their own police," said Michael Lamonsoff, a Civil Rights attorney who represents several young men in lawsuits against the Island's Public Safety Department.

In an attempt to find out more about the 37 Peace Officers who patrol the Island, we filed a Freedom of Information request for disciplinary records. The documents reveal that many of them have been suspended repeatedly. Ten of them have more than 7 suspensions each. Suspended for "sleeping on duty," "excessive lateness," "tampering with evidence," and "illegal or unethical behavior." Two of the officers have more than 20 suspensions. Yet none has been fired.

"There has to be consequences for these things. No one is getting in trouble for this stuff," Jones said.

It's the lack of accountability among Peace Officers that some young men say has turned their island into a prison.

"Go to work, go home , stay inside. I feel like if I go outside I'm targeted," Gordan said.

We made repeated attempts to get an interview with the head of the Island's Public Safety Department.

We did get a brief statement from the newly-appointed President who says, "I am looking into these issues. Addressing them is a top priority."


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