Mayor Says Wrong Time And Place For NYPD To Arrest Protester In Unmarked Van
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tensions are lingering after clashes between police and protesters Tuesday night.
Several officers were hurt and one protester was put into an unmarked van and taken into custody. Fellow demonstrators said it looked like she was being abducted.
Kips Bay resident Kyle Landry was recording the peaceful march happening near his apartment and couldn't believe the confrontation he caught on camera.
"I just saw a girl skateboarding down the street, she goes past a minivan and suddenly the doors burst open and they grab her and they shove her inside," he said.
Nikki Stone, 18, spent the night in police custody but was released Wednesday morning with a desk appearance ticket.
The NYPD said Stone was wanted for spray painting the lenses of six police cameras during separate criminal incidents in and around City Hall Park between June 29 and July 19.
Her friends protested all night outside Tribeca's 1st police precinct.
"Nikki was snatched off the sidewalk by NYPD - by NYPD. It's critical we know exactly what their 'justification' was," one friend said in a social media video.
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The homeless teen was one of 12 protesters arrested Tuesday.
A large group said they were peacefully marching and feeding the homeless by Second Avenue and 25th Street when police on bikes showed up and things got out of hand.
In the now-viral video, Stone is arrested and pushed into an unmarked car by officers in plain clothes.
Kips Bay resident Ann Larson said he "heard a great hoopla" and saw the whole thing.
"You cannot do this unmarked, undercover. You have to identify yourself. It's kidnapping," she said.
However, police said this squad uses unmarked vehicles to find wanted suspects, anyone from a low-level offender to a person wanted in a homicide.
Intelligence and counter terrorism expert Brian Boyd said he thinks it was an acceptable police tactic.
"It's legitimate. When they went up and made the arrest, they identified themselves as police officers," he said. "A warrant squad is there to find and catch criminals or people who are wanted for committing crimes. And the only way you can do it sometimes, in a large group like that, is to do it undercover."
Boyd added, "They have to be read their Miranda rights 'cause that's the requirements. They're put into a vehicle. The police car was unmarked because it's safer for the person involved, it's safer for the police."
Dr. Darrin Porcher, a criminal justice professor at Pace University and former NYPD lieutenant, agrees.
"If I was still an active lieutenant in the NYPD, I would be 100% behind what took place," Porcher told CBS2's Jessica Layton.
Serving in the NYPD for 20 years, he calls this a sound tactic, even if it doesn't look great given the times.
"The optics of arrest are always ugly," he said. "Let's say the officers elected not to take this individual into custody ... That same individual goes out and continues to deface more security cameras ... and then we have someone robbed or killed in that same area, and now people would bang on the desk and say, why don't we have cameras? You know who this was that committed this act."
Watch Lisa Rozner's report --
But in a statement sent to CBS2 from Nikki's mom, Carly O'Neil, she says her daughter, known as "Stickers," was punched several times in the face.
She says Nikki is transgender and "while they did use her pronoun, they insisted on calling by her legal name," which is Nicholas Stone.
She added the officers allegedly yelled insults like "act like a normal f****** human being and not some animal."
O'Neil says Stickers comes from three generations of queer women in the family and that this took bigotry to a whole other level.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera says she was on the phone with police all night.
"What we really need to actually look at is how unidentified police are being used beyond just this one arrest," she said.
Watch John Dias' report --
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the incident Wednesday morning.
"A lot of us have been watching in pain what's going on in Portland, Oregon," he said. "Anything that even slightly suggests that is, to me, troubling, and it's the kind of thing we don't want to see in this city.
"I think it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest," he added.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was disturbed and called on the NYPD to build trust within the community.
"We're not going to fund local governments in the next budget unless they do what is responsible," he said.
Protesters say it was peaceful, but the NYPD said seven of its officer were injured – four of them had to go to the hospital. They were treated for minor injuries and since been released.
Nikki's mom says her daughter will likely be represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
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