BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The NYPD is investigating allegations that police officers assaulted a gay man and used anti-gay slurs while arresting the man and two of his friends, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday.
Josh Williams, Ben Collins and Antonia Maenza claim they were walking home from a bar past the 79th Precinct in Bed-Stuy on the morning of June 2 when an officer falsely accused Williams of urinating in public, leading to an argument resulting in their arrest.
"We tried to explain to the officer that Josh had not urinated and the officer demanded ID. I did exactly what I've been taught to do in a situation like that and asked him if we were being detained or if we were free to go," Collins said at a Tuesday press conference in front of NYPD headquarters.
"The officer responded by grabbing Josh. He thrashed Josh around and was then joined by other officers who slammed Josh to the ground and pepper sprayed him while he was on the ground in handcuffs."
Collins added that an officer involved then refused to give his name and badge number and called them "fa---ts."
Collins and Maenza were then arrested as well while they said they were trying to leave to scene to go home.
The men posted a YouTube video of the incident, recorded on one of their phones, which shows Williams on the ground being arrested and both police and the men yelling at each other.
The video does not record officers using the epithet, though you can hear one of the young men responding to the officers by yelling, "You want to call me a fa---t?"
Kelly, speaking Tuesday at a separate press conference at police headquarters, said he has also viewed the video and thinks "it's appropriate to have it investigated by Internal Affairs."
He also defended the NYPD's relationship with the LGBT community, saying police have a task force that works closely with community leaders.
"I think we have an excellent working relationship," Kelly said. "I believe they would tell you that. "
Williams was charged with public urination and resisting arrest, according to his lawyer, Cynthia Conti-Cook. Collins and Maenza were both charged with obstructing governmental administration.
"We call for the charges to be dropped. We call for charges to be brought against the officers who assaulted, verbally abused and arrested my clients," said Conti-Cook. "We hope that by holding these officers accountable today that we will all feel safer in our communities tomorrow."
Williams allegedly suffered lacerations to his wrists while being arrested.
"We did absolutely nothing wrong. What was done to us was wrong," he said. "Our concern is that this doesn't happen to anyone else. And we want everyone to feel safe in the streets."