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Questions Raised After Unmasked NYPD Officer Pushes Masked Commuter Out Of Subway Station

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD is investigating internally after a video showed an unmasked officer pushing a masked commuter out of a subway station.

Face coverings have been required in the public transit system citywide since last year, but the commuter in the video told CBS2's Ali Bauman he sees many police officers not following that rule in the subways and claims when he asked an officer to put on a mask, things quickly escalated.

Cell phone video taken Tuesday morning shows an unmasked NYPD officer pushing a masked commuter out of the Eighth Street subway station and closing the emergency exit door.

As the cop walks away he says, "You're being disruptive."

"Is it appropriate for officers to physically assault someone and throw them out of the station for asking them to follow the law? I would say no," Andy Gilbert said.

Gilbert tells CBS2 he got off the W train around 8 a.m. and saw two unmasked police officers on the platform -- a sight he says is common on his commute.

"I just take my phone out and I'll, like, you know, politely ask them, 'Hey, can you just follow the rules like everyone else and wear a mask?'" he said. "The male officer there basically was playing dumb and pretending he couldn't hear what I said. You know, he was saying, 'Oh, I can't hear you with your mask on.'"

Gilbert says he continued asking them from a distance to cover up.

"He grabbed me by the collar and just started shoving me out the station," he said.

"Because we don't see what happened before that video, were you doing anything in any way to justify them pushing you like that? Were you threatening them? Were you getting in their face? Anything like that?" Bauman asked.

"No, I didn't touch them or get near them," Gilbert said.

In September, the MTA began issuing $50 fines to anyone in the subway system without a face covering.

"Openly flouting the law, just sort of, it breeds disrespect for the law.," Gilbert said.

At the start of October, 68% of the NYPD's workforce was vaccinated, compared to 76% of adult New Yorkers overall.

Back in August, the NYPD issued a department-wide memo reading in part, "All members, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, must wear a face covering [...] when interacting with members of the public" and while present in "public transit."

"The police commissioner said he was going to address this, and obviously Commissioner Shea has not addressed this fully," said Charlton D'Souza, president of Passengers United.

Some politicians have also weighed in on the video.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman tweeted, "For the last 2 years we've seen NYPD officers act as if they are above the law & the laws of science by refusing to wear masks on the subway."

State Sen. Jessica Ramos wrote, "This is the behavior of someone who knows they can behave badly with impunity."

An MTA spokesman told CBS, "It's up to the NYPD how to address allegations that its officers have violated rules. We anticipate that anyone who is in public transit will wear a required mask for the safety of themselves, fellow New Yorkers, and transit workers."

"It's a clear sign to me that they don't respect the rules, they think they're above the rules," Gilbert said.

Gilbert was not injured in the incident.

He showed CBS2 his own video which leads up to the altercation and appears to confirm his account that he kept his distance from the officers. He did not want CBS2 to air the video until he spoke to a lawyer.

An NYPD spokesman would only say that the department is aware of the video and the incident is under internal review.

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