New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea testified that officers did not violate the department’s use-of-force standards by driving their squad cars at a crowd of protesters.
Shea told New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Monday that the department’s preliminary investigation shows that officers acted properly when they rushed their vehicles through a crowd of people after being cornered by protesters last month.
“No,” he said after being asked if the officers violated department policies.
“I don’t want to mess up any internal investigations that are still underway, including by your office. … I’m sure that the Civilian Complaint Review Board will also join in, but what I will say here is that our Internal Affairs Bureau investigated this information, and preliminarily, we have an accounting of that incident where we have officers in a situation where they’re essentially being penned in by protesters. I think that’s plainly evident if you review all of the facts,” Shea said.
“It’s on the heels of several other incidents where that same tactic was used. Also caught on video and available for anyone to see where people are penning in police vehicles and then pelting it with a number of items including bricks, including garbage cans and trying to assault the officers,” he added.
Shea said he was “intimately familiar” with the videos of officers driving through the crowds. He said the department didn’t want anyone to be injured, including officers, and noted that there were not any recorded injuries from that incident.
“I’m not saying that the police car was used as a use-of-force,” he said. “I am saying that the officers were set upon and attacked, and thankfully, they were able to get out of that situation with, to my knowledge, no injuries to anyone.”
New York City was one of several cities to face massive protests against police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after an officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis. Some of the protests, including those in New York City, devolved into riots with looting, arson, and vandalism.