NYPD investigating video of officers hitting suspects with batons in Washington Heights

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- The NYPD is investigating an incident in which police officers were caught on video repeatedly hitting two suspects with batons in Washington Heights.

According to officials, the officers approached the men, who were reportedly harassing commuters on the stairs of the 168th Street subway station in Washington Heights.

The men left the station when police arrived but then got into the confrontation with the officers on the street.

The video, posted on Instagram, shows the officers swinging batons at one of the men around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The video shows a second man then charge one of the officers, and they end up in a struggle on the ground. The video shows other officers arriving on the scene, striking the man several times with a baton.

Investigators said 36-year-old Aaron Griessom attempted to punch an officer before the video began. They said when the other officer approached to help, 37-year-old Sidney Williams attacked.

The officers were treated and released for injuries at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The two suspects were also treated and released from Mount Sinai St. Luke's with pain and bruising. Williams also had a nose injury.

Mayor Bill de Blasio described the video as "troubling" but said more facts are needed.

"My understanding of the context is the individuals involved, not the officers, the individuals involved were creating a real problem for neighborhood residents," he said. "I want to emphasize: I don't have all the facts yet. I am waiting to get them, but I want to emphasize anytime an officer tells someone they are going to be put under arrest, it is the obligation of that individual to comply with the officers' order and not resist."

Michael Gonzalez, the person who took the video, said the suspects were defying the officers and being confrontational.

"One of them actually lunged at one of the officers. He went for a tackle. That's when I pulled out my phone," he said. "They got defiant, aggressive, and the officer had no other choice to defend himself, I think."

The mayor said he was concerned that physical action was still being taken with one suspect on the ground, but the eyewitness said the suspect was resisting even then.

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Eyewitness who took video of NYPD confrontation says suspects were resisting

Authorities said Griessom has at least 26 prior arrests, mostly in the transit system. He has arrests within the past year for menacing and at least three arrests for fighting with police.

Williams has been arrested at least seven times. Four of his arrests were for fighting with police.

They were awaiting arraignment in Lower Manhattan.

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