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Pregnant Woman Seen On Video In Confrontation With Police Fears For Baby's Health

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Questions have been mounting since the release of a video showing police throwing a pregnant woman onto the ground in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

As CBS 2's Matt Kozar reported, the woman, Sandra Amezquita, said she is now worried for her unborn son. But questions have also mounted for those in the middle of the violent encounter.

The NYPD has launched an internal investigation into the confrontation early this past Saturday, which was caught on a cell phone camera.

In the video, an officer is seen throwing Amezquita, who is about five months pregnant, to the ground. He then straddles her body while her abdomen is pressed against the pavement, CBS 2's Weijia Jiang reported. The video also shows officers throwing another woman to the ground after she tried to interfere.

The struggle unfolded around 1 a.m. Saturday on Fifth Avenue near 40th Street outside the El Tesoro Ecuatoriano Restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park.

Amezquita said she hit the ground, belly first, when police took her into custody.

"They were beating my son and I went to console him," she said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Amezquita, 44, said she was trying to stop police from arresting her teenage son, Jhohan Lemos, who she said was being targeted.

"I'm afraid of what happen to my baby," she said. "I pray to God that nothing happens to him."

In a YouTube video, Amezquita showed a cut to her belly that her attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, came from a police baton called an ASP.

Pregnant woman Thrown To Ground By Police In Brooklyn
Photo of mark on Sandra Amezquita's belly. (credit: Handout via Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

"She was doing nothing wrong, an innocent victim. And certainly a pregnant woman—any woman—should not be treated the way she was," Rubenstein said at a news conference Wednesday.

Dennis Flores, of the local police watch group El Grito de Sunset Park, said Amezquita was trying to stop police from harassing her teenage son for his prior robbery arrest from a year ago.

Lemos claimed she was beaten by police while he was arrested.

Police say they stopped Lemos because he had a gravity knife clipped to his pants. It is an illegal weapon similar to a switch blade.

Sources told CBS 2 two plainclothes anti-crime officers spotted Lemos carrying the illegal knife and tried to arrest him, but he took off running.

The teen is no stranger to the law. He has been arrested twice before for robbery and gang assault.

NYPD Launches Internal Investigation After Video Shows Pregnant Woman Thrown To The Ground By Police

Flores, who released the video of the incident Tuesday, said police set Lemos up and Amezquita jumped in because she felt her son was being unfairly targeted.

"According to this young man, the cops, when they put the razor blade in his pocket, they told him, 'We're going to make sure this time, it sticks,'" said Flores. "So the mom saw this, started yelling out, and the cops grabbed her and slammed her against the floor like we see in the video. And they put a Taser to her stomach."

Amezquita's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said it's unclear if the officer used a Taser.

Pregnant Woman Seen On Video In Confrontation With Police Fears For Baby's Health

Police said Lemos was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and harassment.

His mother received a court summons for disorderly conduct, Jiang reported. Police also arrested her husband and another person.

Police said Lemos' father and the other man got involved in the altercation, and assaulted an officer.

When asked why Amezquita interfered with police, Rubenstein said: "Look at the video. Pictures are the truth and make that determination for yourself."

The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau has launched an investigation into the incident, but as of Wednesday, no officers had been disciplined.

The incident happened less than a week after another police officer in Sunset Park was allegedly caught kicking a fruit vendor while police were holding him on the ground. That officer was suspended.

Flores posted the video of Amezquita's arrest on Facebook.

"This is not something that is only happening in Sunset Park," Flores said. "It's happening all over the city."

The new video has prompted calls for the Brooklyn District Attorney's office to investigate.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch came to the officers' defense, saying you cannot resist arrest or interefere with police action, Diamond reported.

Flores said the officers in both cases should be fired.

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