The NYPD has arrested three men they say were involved in dousing New Yorkers and police officers with water over the scorching hot weekend.
According to the NYPD, Isiah Scott and Chad Bowden, both 28, were arrested on Wednesday for throwing water on a woman in Harlem on Sunday. Police say the woman's cell phone was damaged in the incident. The men are charged with criminal mischief, harassment, and disorderly conduct.
An NYPD spokesperson said that they are still looking for the people who tossed water on two NYPD officers attempting to make an arrest in Harlem. Bowden's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it's unclear if Scott had been arraigned.
— NYC Scanner (@NYScanner) July 22, 2019
At around 8 p.m. on Sunday at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 115th Street, cops were making an arrest "when three unidentified males doused the officers with water and threw a bucket, striking one of the officers in the head," an NYPD release states. "The officer suffered pain and swelling to the back of his head. The males fled the location in an unknown direction."
In Brownsville, police arrested the man they said poured a bucket of water over the head of an NYPD officer on Saturday.
Courtney Thomas, 28, is charged with obstructing governmental administration, criminal nuisance, criminal tampering, disorderly conduct, and harassment. It's not clear if he had been arraigned.
None of the officers who had water dumped on them in the videos made attempts to arrest the people who got them wet.
“Any cop who thinks that’s all right, that they can walk away from something like that, maybe should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said about the incidents. "We don’t take that.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio even one-upped Rudy Giuliani in his condemnation.
When you disrespect our NYPD officers, you disrespect ALL New Yorkers. We don't tolerate that in our city.
The truth is crime's NEVER been lower in New York City and that's because we're bridging the divide between police and communities — a divide @RudyGiuliani helped create. https://t.co/A303mUWl8Q
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 23, 2019
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a longtime critic of the NYPD, held a press conference on Wednesday to call the water-tossing "shameful" and "dangerous."
“There’s no way around it. Those actions should be called out, and we have to make sure people don’t feel like that can just happen without anything being said," Williams said.
The Public Advocate refused to align himself with critics like Vice President Pence, who he said lack credibility on the issue because they have refused to call for any police reform.
“It’s frustrating to hear some of the folks speak, who have not been engaged in community activities in the very difficult discussion of safer communities and better policing,” Williams said. “If you’re not going to be engaged in both, when you do speak out, it is dangerous and irresponsible.”
A memo issued to all uniformed officers on Monday about the incidents states that while "courts have found that police officers are expected to endure a higher level of offensive language than ordinary citizens... police officers are not expected to tolerate conduct that may cause risk of injury to themselves and the public, interferes with the performance of their duties, or tampers with or damages their uniform, equipment, or other department property."
The memo states that obstructing governmental administration, criminal tampering, harassment, and disorderly conduct are all appropriate "where an individual intentionally sprays or douses a member of service with water while performing their duties."
Presumably, the department makes exceptions when filming a video of kids at the Police Athletic League summer camp pelting officers with water balloons.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 26, 2016
"Their interpretation of the law is improper. Splashing water is not equivalent to obstructing any kind of governmental action at that point," Anne Oredeko, the supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society's racial justice unit, of the NYPD memo. "I'm concerned that the NYPD does not understand the law enough to give their foot soldiers out there proper advice around this issue, except to respond with using state violence to something that's petty and silly."
It's not clear where the NYPD draws the line on what is mischievous behavior that should be ignored, and what warrants an arrest and criminal charges. Oredeko calls it "highly contextual."
NYPD has surrendered under O’KNEEL-ANOTHER WATER TOSSING VIDEO. No more MEMO’s- DEFEND YOURSELF before YOU get seriously injured or KILLED. These buckets can contain ACID, BLEACH or other CHEMICALS. Obtain exposure numbers. O’KNEEL MUST GO, take the CLOWNS with you! No CONFIDENCE pic.twitter.com/9W5ABFq0Wz
— SBA (@SBANYPD) July 25, 2019
Asked about the children who are seen dousing police with water in the video above, an NYPD spokesperson replied, "NYPD police officers courageously work to address crime and disorder while facing unknown circumstances each time they respond to a call. This type of behavior is reprehensible and will not be tolerated. We are looking into the matter."
"The behavior by some of the young people to act that way towards the police is aggressive. It's not just idle playfulness, it's a sign of how bad relations are," said Alex Vitale, a policing expert and professor of sociology at Brooklyn College. "At the same time, the fact that the department decided that it was a priority to go out and arrest these people shows how pointless this talk of 'community policing' is, because when push comes to shove, the department will always double down on the use of force."
Vitale added, "What happens if those 10-year-olds or 15-year-olds or 25-year-olds resist? You've got a street full of kids and you start escalating the use of force—do you just start pepper spraying? Are you going to take out your handgun? Once you go down that road, the outcomes don't look good."
To Vitale, the question is: "Why can't there be some other way of responding to this that doesn't involve sending people with guns?"
"Is there no one in the community to be mobilized to talk to people, in a position of respect, to say, 'Hey let's set some limits here'? Too often the answer is no, all the money has gone to the police department."