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VIDEO: NYPD Officer Hits Unarmed Teen in the Face With His Gun

By Murray Weiss | October 7, 2014 7:29am
NYPD Officer Punches Brooklyn Teen With His Gun
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DNAinfo
 

BROOKLYN — Two NYPD officers are under criminal investigation after punching and using a gun to bash a 16-year-old suspect in the face despite the teen raising his hands to surrender, according to a video obtained by DNAinfo New York.

The surveillance footage obtained exclusively by “On The Inside" shows the two officers catch up to marijuana suspect Kahreem Tribble after a brief chase in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

As the teen stops running, one officer throws a punch at his face. Then, as the suspect raises his hands, the other officer hits him with his gun.

Tribble was arrested for possessing 17 small bags of marijuana and disorderly conduct on Aug. 29. At his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to a violation and was released with cracked teeth and bruises.

The officers from the 79th Precinct are now targets of a criminal investigation conducted by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.

“What’s depicted on this video is troubling and warrants a thorough investigation,” Thompson told “On The Inside."

According to court records, law enforcement sources and the video, the encounter started in front of 1311 St. John’s Place at 2:20 a.m. when three anti-crime officers spotted the 6-foot-2 teen peering into the window of parked mini-van.

When the officers got out of their car to approach Tribble, he allegedly tossed away a small black canvas bag and took off running. The officers — one with his gun drawn — gave chase, concerned that the suspect had a weapon, sources said.

Shortly thereafter, Tribble slows down and stops and appears prepared to be arrested. But an officer, identified as Tyrane Isaac, rushes up to him and takes a swing at his head.

The teen ducks the blow and then can be seen retreating — with his hands up — to a storefront gate.

Officer David Afanador — his gun drawn — then catches up and rushes straight to Tribble, hitting him in the his face with his gun, breaking a front tooth and chipping another.

On the video, Afanador then holsters his weapon and retraces his steps to retrieve the canvas bag, leaving Isaacs to put the cuffs on Tribble.

But before he does, Isaac punches Tribble again and pushes him onto his stomach.

The video ends with Afanador waving the bag in front of Tribble’s face before smacking him with it.

A third officer, identified as Christopher Mastoros, can be seen taking no action to help Tribble.

Police Commissioner William Bratton has seen the video and was angered and embarrassed by it, a source said.

“Clearly, Commissioner Bratton has seen the video and reacted very aggressively in the sense of saying there have to be consequences when anything is done the wrong way," said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday. He said he hadn't personally seen the footage, but was told what it showed.

“I see these videos as another piece of information that we need to use to improve the relationship between police and community and in many cases to heal the relationship between police and community.”

Sources say officials were particularly concerned about Afanador using his gun on the teen because it could have accidentally fired — injuring or killing him, another officer or an innocent bystander.

Afanador has been suspended without pay. Isaac was placed on modified duty, stripped of his badge and gun.

Both officers have been on the force for nine years and now face possible criminal charges and dismissal, sources say.

Mastoros, also a nine-year veteran, could face a departmental charge for failing to stop his colleagues, sources say. He is not part of the criminal probe.

Each of the officers has two other cases lodged against them by defendants alleging false arrest or being victims of excessive force, according to court records. The cases were not connected.

Mastoros made news two years ago when he was credited with helping save the life of a partner, Kevin Brennan, who survived being shot in the head after chasing a gunman into a Bushwick building.

The video is the latest to surface since the viral video of the tragic “choke hold” death of Eric Garner. Last week, Bratton told a confab of top NYPD officials that he was committed to rooting out bad apples engaged in brutality and corruption.

Sources say Internal Affairs was tipped off to the Tribble video a few days after his arrest.  Roughly two weeks ago, IAB supervisors brought their findings to Thompson to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

Patrick Lynch, the police union president, said the tape does not tell the entire tale.

“As usual, the video fails to capture the offense that resulted in police action or the lengthy foot pursuit that culminated in the arrest," he said. 

"Situations like this one happen in real time under great stress. It’s very easy to be judgmental in the comfort of an office while sitting in front of a video screen."

Tribble’s lawyer, Amy Rameau, told "On The Inside" that her client was heading home from a friend's apartment when the officers chased him.

"My client was minding his own business and they decided to chase him for no reason," she said.  "Their account is concocted to justify what they did, to cover their asses, to legitimize their criminal conduct."

She said in addition to suffering broken teeth, Tribble was bleeding from his mouth and "begging for medical attention," but was only sent to Interfaith Hospital when other officers at Central Booking saw him.

She said she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD and the officers.

The clash has left the teen "petrified" of police and "traumatized and fearful that they will come after him again."

Additional reporting by Trevor Kapp