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Video: Someone Who Appears To Be That Gun-Waving Cop Says He’s “The Hero You Deserve”

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The cop caught on video threatening and attacking bystanders who filmed him in Harlem last week likes playing dress-up. That’s what Cop Watch activist Steve Cruz says he discovered when Officer Risel Martinez followed his Instagram account, and Cruz started poring over his. Cruz says Martinez deleted his account soon thereafter, but not before Cruz had mined many weird and whimsical, if not by-the-book videos from it. The one that is perhaps the most topically relevant to the incident last Thursday, during which Martinez punched a 19-year-old who was filming him and pulled a gun on another bystander filming, is of a man who seems to be Martinez lifting weights dressed as Batman, or “Yatman.”

In another video, Martinez appears to be goofing around dressed as Thor, or “Yor,” in a cell.

Here he is as Bane:

And keeping his hair nice:

Cruz said the follow notification came early in the morning as he was blasting out videos bystanders shot of the Thursday incident, and that he was shocked to realize that the man on the other end was the officer pointing a gun in the video.

“I looked at [Martinez’s profile] real fast, then started downloading all the videos, boom boom boom, got out of it, backed out of it, then privatized my page, ” Cruz said.

Martinez was stripped of his gun and badge on Saturday as video of his handling of the Harlem incident circulated online. It began, according to police, when officers had stopped a driver and dirt-bike riders started circling them. The NYPD says the officers chased the bikers, and witnesses said that they caught up to one rider at a building on 134th Street and Eighth Avenue and arrested him. The man was compliant, witnesses said, but Martinez punched him repeatedly anyway, then when a bystander started to film him and a partner struggling with the man on the floor, Martinez pulled his gun and pointed it at the peanut gallery, yelling “Back up!” Another video shows Martinez storming over to 19-year-old Jahnico Harvey, who is filming outside the front door of the building, and punching him in the face. Harvey was arrested and charged with menacing and disorderly conduct.

Footage of the incident released so far provides an incomplete accounting of everything that happened leading up to and following the gun-pulling and punching.

Martinez’s Instagram videos put a human face on last week’s violence, but unfortunately for him, cops aren’t supposed to post photos in uniform, and like the rest of us, are banned from using their phones while driving.

Cruz said that Martinez appears “way tweaked” in the Harlem video, as well as in his personal posts, and questioned his mental state. He said he hopes that releasing videos of the embattled cop will help police leaders decide to fire him.

“[Cop Watch Patrol Unit] hopes that Bill Bratton comes to his senses and lets this officer go, because he’s a ticking time bomb,” Cruz said.

He said the group is holding some videos in reserve in case the department tries to claim Martinez is a decent cop.

Martinez joined the department in 2012, according to city payroll records. For anyone who wants to go further down this rabbit hole, here’s a greatest hits reel of sorts compiled by Cruz, including one of Martinez holding a knife to the neck of a Christmas elf doll.

We’ve reached out to the NYPD to see if there is any separate action being taken around Martinez’s goofing off. We’ll update if we hear back. We couldn’t reach Martinez.

[h/t Keegan Stephan]




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Bronx man and police watchdog says cops roughed him up for filming them, plans to sue NYPD – New York Daily News

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A Bronx man who runs a police watchdog group claims he was roughed up for exercising his right to videotape.

Jose LaSalle, 44, claims in paperwork filed with the city controller’s office that cops grabbed his camera, threw him up against a fence, cuffed and strip-searched him, then hit him with a summons for jaywalking in September.

Now, he’s planning to strike back with a $500,000 suit against the city, the NYPD and the cops, according to the filing, obtained by the Daily News.

LaSalle, who works for the city’s Parks Department, regularly walks the beat in West Bronx wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “CPU,” Copwatch Patrol Unit, on the back. His goal is to make sure cops aren’t abusing citizens.

The confrontation that left him bruised began around 12:20 a.m. on Sept. 28 near W. 183rd St. and Tiebout Ave., when a cop shined a flashlight in his face, LaSalle alleges.

LaSalle approached the three officers while recording with his Samsung 5 and asked them for their badge numbers, he said. He even recited the section of the NYPD patrol guide requiring them to provide the information, he said.

In turn, the officers demanded his identification. He asked what he had done wrong and why they needed his ID, he said.

“So one grabs one arm and the other grabs the other arm,” he recalled. “My face slams against the gate. I felt something snap in my shoulder.”

He didn’t struggle and let the officers take his phone and put him in cuffs, he said.

“We got you motherf—–, now you’re going to jail for assaulting an officer,” one of the officers said, according to the paperwork filed last week.

“You thought we weren’t going to get you,” one of them said, according to LaSalle.

LaSalle told a sergeant that he had been assaulted by the cops and that he needed medical attention for his shoulder. Instead, he was taken to a back room of the station on Ryer Ave. and strip-searched, he claims.

He spent four hours in a holding cell and was never read his rights, he claims. He was not criminally charged and was released with tickets for jaywalking and possession of a scanner.

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“I’m well-known so it’s amazing for them to go after me,” he said on a recent walk past the 46th Precinct station house, where he was held.

He said he wants to make sure other people don’t have to suffer the same abuse that left him in the hospital for two days with scrapes and bruises and a sprained shoulder.

He still hasn’t gotten back the phone he was using to film, but has picked up a new Sony video camera that he now uses to catalogue cop behavior in his neighborhood.

Lasalle, who started the group in 2011, said he was happy to hear NYPD Commissioner Bratton say he was going after cops who were bad apples — but he plans to continue rolling.

“These are the eyes that don’t lie,” he said, gesturing to his camera. “We want these officers to know that if the system doesn’t hold them responsible, we will make sure that we blast them all over social media.”

Bratton issued a memo in the wake of the viral video of the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island that it is legal for cops to be filmed while on duty.

tmoore@nydailynews.com


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Undercover cop chases and grabs 14-year-old girl in Manhattan (VIDEO) – New York Daily News

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A dramatic and disturbing video shows an undercover cop going after a 14-year-old girl repeatedly in upper Manhattan as onlookers demand the officer leave the teen alone.

In the video, the cop violently grabs the girl, but a woman rips the teen away from him and browbeats him until he and his partner leave.

“You know you’re doing wrong. Go home!” the unidentified woman yells.

The video was shot by Michael Barber, 24, a member of the activist group Copwatch Patrol Unit, on May 14 in Washington Heights near 140th St. and Hamilton Pl.

He said the action started about 10 minutes earlier when the undercover cop and his partner stopped a group of girls as they walked down the street and one officer singled out one of the girls.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’ ” Barber said. “As soon as he jumped out of the car he grabbed her. He just had his hands on her.”

His video starts with the cop grabbing a second girl’s wrist and leading her to his car, where the first teen waiting. When the girls try to leave, he calls them back.

The unidentified woman demands to know the officers’ names, but they don’t tell her. Barber can be heard in the recording telling the woman that the officers are required to give their names.

The woman then urges one of the teens to ask one of the cops, who gets back into his car, for his name as he questions her.

The teen, standing outside the cop’s car, accuses him of putting his hands on her, despite her age.

“I did not do nothing and you came and touched me,” she says.

The cop suddenly jumps out of his vehicle and lunges toward her, trying to grab her as she repeatedly tells him not to put his hands on her. Then the cop is seen pushing the girl toward a parked minivan as onlookers yell at the officers to leave her alone and try to pull her away.

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As the girl who accused the cop of putting his hands on her tries to walk away, he yanks her violently by the arm, before his partner pulls his partner away.

With the crowd yelling at them, the cops climb into their unmarked car. In a parting shot, one officer hurls obscenities at the woman who tried to protect the girl as they leave.

“I was surprised that things didn’t get worse,” Barber said. “I believe he was wrong from the very beginning and that’s why he didn’t call it in.”

Barber, who’s been with the group that videotapes police for about a year, said the cops stopped the girls because somebody pushed the button on a police call box.

The NYPD didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the video, which the Daily News provided to them.

ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.

tmoore@nydailynews.com


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Cop Watch Activist Says Officers Erased Evidence From His GoPro

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Police accountability activist Jose LaSalle has released portions of audio secretly recorded inside an NYPD precinct last summer—recordings that, according to LaSalle, prove police officers tampered with evidence and fabricated charges against him because of his work monitoring police activity.

The audio was recorded on LaSalle’s phone in August, after he was arrested while filming what he says was an improper stop-and-frisk carried out by three plainclothes officers outside the Patterson Houses in Mott Haven. He was initially charged with possessing a radio that could transmit over police frequencies, though LaSalle maintains that it was a legal two-way walkie-talkie.

In excerpts of recordings from those devices, voices can be heard apparently celebrating the arrest of LaSalle, who founded the South Bronx-based group Cop Watch Patrol Unit in 2011. As several people congratulate the people who LaSalle says are the arresting officers for busting LaSalle on a felony, someone chants, “It’s a party, it’s a party, it’s a party, hey!” Another voice asks, “Now for him, filming is a crime, right?”

The Bronx District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case, and LaSalle was released the following day, with his two cell phones and GoPro.

Following his release, LaSalle went to a diner on 161st Street with fellow cop-watchers, some of whom tweeted that he had evidence suggesting the arrest was illegal. About 30 minutes later, witnesses say, four police officers showed up at the diner to re-arrest LaSalle. Video of the encounter shows one officer receiving directions by phone, then telling the other officers, “We need his personal effects.”

LaSalle was then brought to a holding cell, where he claims officers demanded that he unlock his cellphones. He refused to do so, and was released a few hours later, this time with an order to appear in court for an unspecified crime. The new charges, he would later learn, were obstructing governmental administration, harassment, and disorderly conduct. His recording devices, from which he had not yet obtained the audio, were reclassified as evidence and confiscated.

About an hour after his second arrest, LaSalle says that he received an email from an app on his phone alerting him that someone had attempted to unlock it with an incorrect passcode. Screenshots of the alert shared with Gothamist show that the attempt was made in the vicinity of the Police Service Area 7 station house, where LaSalle had been jailed. Since the officers didn’t have a warrant, the failed login could qualify as an illegal search, according to LaSalle’s attorney.

“They wanted to intercept this audio,” LaSalle said. “They’d rather tamper with the evidence, which they did, and have this audio erased, than have this go out into the community. Guess what. They screwed up.”

In January, prosecutors dismissed the second round of charges against LaSalle, and a few weeks later he was permitted to get his devices back. Many of the files stored on the GoPro had vanished, he said, but to his surprise, some audio from after the arrest remained on one of the locked phones.

In addition to the recording of the officers seeming to cheer the arrest, the phone had also picked up a conversation that seems to be between the two arresting officers, discussing whether they could charge LaSalle with a felony for possessing a certain type of radio.

One voice says, “That’s a misdemeanor, bro. What the fuck?” and another responds, “There’s no felony charge option? It’s a misdemeanor. Maybe you could see like a felony charge.” The first voice replies that it’s a Class A misdemeanor, and that LaSalle should technically receive a Desk Appearance Ticket—which would allow him to be released directly from the precinct without having to go through Central Booking and a court arraignment. The other officer ultimately tells him to process the arrest without issuing a DAT.

In a different portion of the recording, officers can be heard discussing how far away LaSalle was while filming their interaction at the Patterson Houses. One voice suggests that he came close—”about like ten feet”—while another disagrees, pointing out that a different officer told him to stay away.

The recordings seem to contradict the various charges brought against LaSalle, and to support his claim that he was targeted by officers for his activism. It remains unclear what happened following the initial arrest that would have justified the additional charges. LaSalle’s attorney alleges that cops deceived Bronx prosecutors into believing that LaSalle threatened a police captain over the radio, though the attorney declined to provide evidence for the allegation.

A spokesperson for the NYPD declined to comment on the allegation or whether the officers involved will face discipline.

One of the arresting officers, Elvis Duran, was sued in 2011 along with 10 other officers. A man named Juther Perez accused Duran and the others of falsely arresting him on drug-dealing charges when he went to check on his father, who was being arrested. The cops allegedly strip-searched Perez without cause, held him for two days, and pursued the bogus charges for three months before prosecutors tossed them. Perez was beaten to death with a hookah pipe during the litigation, but a jury ultimately upheld the false arrest claim and awarded his family $40,000. The city agreed to pay his lawyers $225,000 in fees.

Another officer involved in the arrest, Sergeant Miguel Frias, was sued the same year. He and another officer allegedly barged into a Bronx family’s apartment without a warrant and claimed that it was an abandoned apartment where drugs were being sold. When the woman who lived there with her husband objected, they allegedly maced her, and arrested her sons and husband on felony assault charges when they tried to intervene. Prosecutors later dismissed the charges. The city settled the case for $60,000.

Outside of One Police Plaza on Monday, LaSalle, flanked by fellow cop watchers, families of people killed by the NYPD, and his attorney, announced that he’s planning to sue the officers involved in his arrest, and called on Mayor de Blasio and police Commissioner James O’Neill to launch an investigation into the precinct. He also noted that a second event will be held outside the Bronx DA’s office on Thursday, where he plans to release additional excerpts from the recordings.

“When you’re filming police and documenting police activity in communities of color and putting it out there so other people can see, they see that as a threat, and they want to eliminate that threat,” LaSalle said. “I think that audio is going to be something that shows people exactly how the police department acts when they feel threatened by someone.”

At the press conference, LaSalle began to explain how exactly he was able to record inside the precinct, but his attorney quickly interjected, and he declined to elaborate further.

Update: A representative of the Bronx District Attorney’s office has told Gothamist that the DA’s Public Integrity Bureau is investigating the police procedures and activities surrounding the incident.

Additional reporting by Nathan Tempey


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