The NYPD has launched an internal investigation into the tasing and beating of a Bronx teen allegedly at the hands of police during the night of looting in Fordham early this month. The family of the teen, Jahmel Leach, say police took him to a local precinct without notifying them, a violation of the department’s protocols on detaining a minor.
Jahmel, 16, suffered several bruises and bloody gashes to the right side of his face after an encounter with several officers the night where looting had occurred on Fordham Road on June 1st. The looting took place during a night of citywide protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
Jahmel, who has no criminal record, was observing the protests unfold when he was violently arrested, the family told the New York Daily News. They also claim an officer used a taser on him, beating him several times to the head, "breaking his teeth" and "busting his lip," according to an account posted on a GoFundMe page set up by his family.
Images taken of Jahmel from St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was treated, show him on a hospital bed with a bloody gash to the right side of his face.
The family says Jahmel was denied a phone call to his mother, who says she did not know he was arrested until receiving a call from St. Barnabas Hospital, a violation of NYPD policy that mandates officers call the parents of a minor arrested.
"On June 2nd, 2020 Yamil (his cousin) and mother Daisy Acevedo went to the 52nd Pct. to pick up Jahmel. The arresting Officer Kevin Hickey #17829 produced Jahmel to both Daisy Acevedo and Yamil Miller butt naked, stripped of his clothes and shoes. Officer Hickey also stated he was not aware that Jahmel was a minor because of his height, otherwise he would not have taken him down with the level of force. Officer Hickey also questioned the minor child without a parent, legal guardian, or attorney which violated his civl rights," wrote organizer Yahmel Millz on the GoFundMe page. Organizers have been able to raise $11,000, exceeding its original goal of $10,000.
A report by NBC New York, citing an anonymous police source, said Jahmel was accused of participating in looting in Fordham, and that police had video of him entering a T-Mobile store. That video has not been made public. Police also claim Jahmel had tried starting a fire while also carrying a stick along the commercial corridor that night.
Attorney Sanford Rubenstein is now representing the family. He told Gothamist he is not looking to sue the NYPD right now but clear Jahmel of the arson charge.
“In the era of George Floyd, in addition to legislation to address the problem of police brutality, what is also needed in the change is the mentality of police officers who presently believe they will not be held accountable for their wrongful acts. Police officers who commit wrongful acts against victims must be held accountable,” Rubenstein told Gothamist.
A meeting between the family and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea is scheduled for sometime next week, according to Rev. Kevin McCall, who is also representing the family.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on the status of the officers involved in the incident A spokespersons said the incident is under investigation. Officers assigned to the 52nd Precinct have been criticized for using excessive force in the past, including a shooting of an unarmed driver in October last year.
The news outraged elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said he was “really troubled” by the sheer brutality of Jahmel’s beating.
“We’re going to get them answers,” de Blasio wrote in his tweet.
On Twitter, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote he was “horrified” to see the injuries Jahmel sustained.
"I need to say as loudly and clearly as possible: there is no place for violence against our students," wrote Carranza. "Period."