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New York: Police accused of beating gay man, using homophobic slurs

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Police are being accused of beating a gay man and using homophobic slurs in an incident, partially caught on an iPhone video, that took place outside Brooklyn 79th Precinct over a week ago, The Village Voice reports.

According to The Voice, Josh Williams, 26, who was in the company of two friends, sustained a cut to his face requiring stitches, bruised ribs, a black eye and scraping to his torso in the incident that took place in the early morning hours of June 2. As Williams and his friends, Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, were walking past the station house, Williams told them he had to pee but was told to wait until they got home. An officer in the parking lot asked if Williams had taken a piss on the building, but Williams said no.

Williams and Collins approached the officer, who had told them to come over and asked them for ID. The Voice says that when Collins asked if they were being detained, the officer “rolled his eyes and sort of snapped” and allegedly twisted Williams’s arm behind his back and slammed him against a car. Williams also alleges he was pepper-sprayed. 

The Voice quotes Collins as alleging that the officer “put his hand on Josh’s neck and pushed his face into the hood of the car twice and pepper-sprayed him.” Collins says his friend “never tried to resist or run away."

Williams told The Voice that he recalls being thrown against a fence and “slammed to the ground and cuffed and then pepper-sprayed again.” Other officers who had joined the first allegedly shoved Collins back a few feet and called him a “fucking asshole.”

Maenza videotaped the incident with his phone. “Josh is on the ground, he’s surrounded by officers, he’s been maced, and they pick him up and take him into the precinct,” Maenza alleges in The Voice report. “At that point, one of the officers called us ‘faggots.’” Collins recalled that the officer called them “fucking faggots."

In a video of the incident obtained by The Voice, both the police and at least two other people can be heard swearing back and forth. One person is heard asking the police for their names and badge numbers and repeatedly saying he had filmed the incident.

Maenza says that when police told him and Collins to go home, he told one officer he had a video of the incident. “We don’t get halfway down the block when six or seven cops surround us,” Maenza recalls. “I’m asking, ‘Are we being detained?’ They handcuff us and take us into the station, and one of the cops says, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll find something to charge you with,’” he alleges. According to The Voice, Collins was allegedly slammed against a parked van and handcuffed. “I asked repeatedly what we were being charged with, and I wasn’t able to get an answer,” Collins said in the report.

Collins and Maenza were also arrested. 

The Voice says it’s awaiting comment from the police. 

The matter is now reportedly under investigation by NYPD Internal Affairs.

The incident has occurred in the midst of a series of attacks against gay men in New York, including the murder of Mark Carson, who was shot in the head May 18 while walking in Greenwich Village. 

Police have charged a 33-year-old man with Carson’s murder.“It’s clear that [Carson] was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay,” New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a media briefing.

In January, The  New York Post reported that a Brooklyn man had filed suit against the city and nine NYPD officers for allegedly beating him and targeting him with homophobic slurs as they responded to a reported noise complaint over a Pride party at his home.

Jabbar Campbell, a 32-year-old forensics investigator, told both the Post and New York Daily News that police allegedly left him with a bloodied mouth, split lip and a swollen eye and yelled “fucking faggot” and “homo” at him.  

Campbell told both news sources that police interfered with a surveillance camera at the building. He produced video footage that appears to show officers looking at the camera, with one of them eventually reaching up to turn its focus away from them. Campbell says that “scared” him.

Landing image: blogs.villagevoice.com

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