Story at a glance
- The Schenectady Police Department is under fire after an officer kneeled on a Black man during an arrest.
- In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the department banned knee-to-neck arrest tactics in June.
Police in the upstate town of Schenectady, N.Y., are facing criticism after a video surfaced that appears to show an officer kneeling on the neck of a Black man during an arrest.
A press release issued from the department on Monday states that the police officer, who remains unidentified, was called to 332 Brandywine Ave. at approximately 9:38 p.m. to investigate a car whose tires were slashed. At the scene, the complainant reportedly informed the officer that there were ongoing issues between neighbors, and the complainant had video surveillance proving a neighbor had done it.
That neighbor was 31-year-old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud. As the officer interviewed Gaindarpersaud, the officer then “decided to detain the male for further investigation.” At that point, Gaindarpersaud reportedly fled to his backyard, where his father, Jaindra, captured the officer kneeling on Gaindarpersaud’s neck as he placed handcuffs on him.
Additional officers responded to the scene after a witness called 911, and Gaindarpersaud was taken to the station for questioning and charged with criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
Speaking to reporters, Gaindarpersaud insists he is innocent.
“Do you have proof or is someone just telling you that? I said you know what...when you have evidence and the video you say you have, bring that video, show it to me, and then you can arrest me and take me away,” he told WRGB Albany.
Soon after the video was published, protesters began demonstrating outside of the Schenectady Police Department, demanding a response.
#HAPPENINGNOW: Demonstrators are gathering outside the Schenectady Police Department in response to a video that surfaced earlier today showing a police officer kneeling on a man’s neck. pic.twitter.com/26T2rCNmzd— Lynsey Smith (@CBS6Lynsey) July 6, 2020
The incident draws parallels to the deaths of Eric Garner and George Floyd, both of whom died in police custody as officers kneeled on them. It’s a familiar scene to Jaindra Gaindarpersaud, who told reporters the optics of the incident were similar.
“I thought I was going to lose my son - my mind went to George Floyd,” he said.
Regarding the arrest, Schenectady police said that it is undergoing review by the Schenectady Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards.
“The Schenectady Police Department is committed to fair, impartial, and transparent investigations,” the statement read. “As soon as the investigation has concluded or more information can be released in regards to the incident, it will be made available.”
As part of the national outcry against police brutality against minorities, the Schenectady Police Department banned chokeholds and knee-to-neck holds in an executive order in early June, weeks after Floyd’s death.
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