New video shows NYPD officers being attacked before hitting suspects with batons

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- New video obtained by Eyewitness News shows NYPD officers being attacked by two men before they turned their batons on the suspects.

Police say this is what started the confrontation that ended up on a video that went viral, showing the two officers repeatedly using their batons to hit two suspects in Washington Heights.

Witnesses say the officers were simply defending themselves during a confrontation.

The new video shows 36-year-old Aaron Grissom taking swings at the officers. He did not connect, but before the cops pulled out their batons, Grissom is seen appearing to square up, ready for more.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in an interview taped for Sunday's edition of "Up Close" that investigators have recovered video showing an officer being "seriously assaulted."

"This all started down in the subway," O'Neill said. "We had a passenger tell these two cops that there were men in the stairway harassing passengers as they come in. The two cops went up, and that's where the confrontation started."

Witnesses tell Eyewitness News that the suspects were the instigators.

"We tried to make an arrest, they resisted, we did get them under control finally," O'Neill said. "We had an off-duty police officer, two plainclothes officers. It's very hard to get someone in handcuffs that doesn't want to be in handcuffs."

The police commissioner says there is also body camera video showing the violence against the two officers.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has released one of the suspects, 37-year-old Sidney Williams. But it is seeking assault charges against Grissom.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan tweeted about the case Thursday night.

The PBA is outraged, and union President Pat Lynch released the following statement: "The Manhattan DA's office needs to wake up and realize that police officers cannot do our job when prosecutors won't do theirs. Every perp who has ever thought about taking a swing at a cop is watching the outcome in this case."

Williams has been arrested at least seven times, including four for fighting with police. Grissom has at least 26 prior arrests, at least three for fighting with officers.

The men's attorney says the officer acted with brutality, writing, "The reported 16 blows with batons, including one to the head, the kicking, the actions taken by police while they were already on the ground must be criminally probed."

In cell phone video, the suspect is seen bragging about suing the NYPD.

"They don't like me but they can't touch me," he says. "They get hurt and I get paid. I got three lawsuits, working on number four."

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