Exclusive: Panic after homeless man scuffles with PD at Port Authority

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Thursday, December 22, 2016
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Rob Nelson has exclusive video of the Port Authority scuffle.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- There were some chaotic moments at the Port Authority Bus Terminal Wednesday morning when police officers became involved in a struggle with a homeless man who may have been trying to grab one of their weapons.

Authorities say the the man was taken into custody after the scuffle, which began when the officers attempted to roust him from a nap. The man, in his 40s, was reportedly sleeping inside the terminal when a Port Authority police officer attempted to wake him. The suspect allegedly grabbed at the officer, possibly at his belt.

Eyewitness News obtained exclusive video of the incident, which shows the man on the ground with officers piled on top of him.

One of them can be heard repeatedly ordering him to "let go of the gun."

"The guy, he started arguing with police," witness Reynaldo Almonte said. "So the cop tried to arrest him. So what he did was he tried to grab the police from behind, and he tried to pull the gun."

Other officers rushed to the scene, and the video shows one of them pulling what appears to be a weapon and pointing it at the suspect as he wrestled with officers.

The man was eventually taken into custody, but the incident caused a panic that sent people scrambling.

"He didn't want to give up," Almonte said. "He wanted to fight. That's when all the problems started. Somebody said that he shot him, and everyone started running to the escalator. One lady, she fell...it was chaos."

Channel Zarzuela was the woman who fell, and she also described the tense moments.

"I saw that there was two cops on top of a homeless guy," she said. "Three girls (nearby) said that the guy had a gun, so that's when everybody started panicking and started running. Then, I ran after. I fell down the escalator. I fell on top of a guy. Everyone was literally falling down the escalators."

No serious injuries were reported, from those in the terminal or the officers involved in the struggle. Port Authority police stressed that the gun never left the officer's holster, and that the suspect was not otherwise armed.

He is charged with assault, attempted criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, menacing a police officer, disorderly conduct and attempted grand larceny.