NYPD: Internal Affairs probing officers' actions while responding to fight involving groups of girls
NEW YORK -- An NYPD officer has been suspended after responding to a fight involving a group of girls on Staten Island.
Video of the incident has people split on how the situation was handled.
CBS2 spoke exclusively with the sisters involved, and with their mother's permission.
The eight-second clip, which has spread on social media with more than 1 million views on Twitter, shows an NYPD officer repeatedly punching a young girl. The girl, 14-year-old Kyonna Robinson, is also seen swinging toward the officer.
"He pushed me and then I punched him in his face two times and we just started fighting," Robinson said Wednesday afternoon.
She said it all started when her 12-year-old sister got in a fight with another girl after school on Tuesday. They attend Intermediate School 51, which is near Willowbrook Road and Port Richmond Avenue in the Port Richmond section of the borough, where the incident happened.
"The girl is bigger than my sister, fighting my sister, of course I'm gonna jump in. I didn't even know what was going on. I just ran over there," Robinson said.
A longer video has surfaced showing what happened leading up to the scuffle with police. Robinson said she saw an officer putting her sister in handcuffs. She is seen approaching and then nudging the cop, who pushes back.
It escalates from there.
"I don't care who you are. You touch me, I'm gonna fight back," Robinson said.
The NYPD said in a statement, "The force used by the officer, a 14 year veteran of the Department, is currently under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau." He has been suspended without pay.
"We are gonna look at the body cam of the police officers. That's why body cams are good. We're gonna use the video that was posted on Instagram. I was not pleased with what I saw on the video," Mayor Eric Adams said.
Carol Smith, a retired NYPD officer who lives in the area, gave her input.
"He should have never been suspended, at all. That's my opinion," Smith said. "I always say to people, before you judge an officer, imagine being put in that situation and how would you react?"
"I think it's tragic because we want our children to respect authorities. We want our children to respect the cops. We want the children to think that the cops are supposed to keep us safe. That's the whole thing. We want them to make us feel safe and we're not getting that when the cops come and don't know how to de-escalate the situation," parent Jamika Glover said.
Watch Ali Bauman's report
"What the investigators will be looking at, what the supervisors will be looking at is was that response unnecessary or was it excessive?" said Keith Taylor, a retired NYPD sergeant and professor of police studies at John Jay College.
He says in some cases, punching is an acceptable police tactic to stop someone from committing a crime.
"Does the fact that she's a 14-year-old girl come in as a factor with the police's response and use of force?" CBS2's Ali Bauman asked.
"The officers may not have known the age of the individual," Taylor said. "The fact that the officer was hitting this individual above the chest in the head area, that would be an initial cause for concern, but without context, it's difficult to understand why it occurred."
When asked what it was like to be in that situation, Robinson said, "I was disappointed in the NYPD. I'm a whole child. Why are you putting your hands on me? You're supposed to be breaking up the fight."
Sources said Robinson was charged as a juvenile with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. She told CBS2 she was taken to the hospital with a bump on her head and headache, but is doing okay.
PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement, in part, "The police officers involved are entitled to due process, not summary judgment based on a few seconds of video. What is clear at this point is that these police officers were trying to break up a violent altercation when they, themselves, were assaulted. What is needed now is a thorough investigation of the entire circumstances, not just what has been posted online."
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