Representatives for a Bronx teen who was tased, beaten, and arrested during a night of looting on June 1st have been assured that a "thorough investigation" will happen in the case against police officers involved in the bloody encounter that sent a 16-year-old boy to the hospital.
“Pictures of the truth, video, demonstrates how a 16-year-old boy was tased in the face, violating the patrol guide and was hit multiple times with a baton. As we've seen demonstrated throughout this country, [people are] voicing the distrust of the police and demanding an end to police brutality,” said Sanford Rubenstein, the family attorney for Jahmel Leach, who had been arrested.
Rubenstein met with the Bronx DA’s Public Integrity Unit, the chief of the DA's investigations unit, and an official from the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau at the DA’s office in Concourse Tuesday afternoon to discuss the case. At a news conference following meeting, Rubenstein was joined by Rev. Kevin McCall, along with Jahmel and his mother, Daisy Acevedo, who did not speak. The two have called out police over the excessive force applied to Jahmel, a middle school student.
“We stressed that this should not happen to anyone else,” said McCall.
Rubenstein requested that the DA drop arson charges against Jahmel. The teen had been detained in Fordham when looting occurred on June 1st, the same night protests opposing police brutality and the death of George Floyd raged across the city.
As looting occurred in Fordham's commercial district, Jahmel was tased and beaten by officers while at the corner of Fordham Road and Marion Avenue. Video obtained by several news outlets appears to show Jahmel attempting to light some rubbish on fire before he was tased and struck twice by police.
"He has been charged by the police with arson. There is no proof whatsoever that he committed arson. I expect the criminal charge to be dismissed in Family Court. What's really important here is what the police did to him," said Rubenstein.
Jahmel was first handcuffed and taken to the 52nd Precinct after suffering several bruises and a laceration to the right side of his face following his encounter with the three officers who reportedly believed he took part in the looting, which the family said is not true. He was eventually rushed from the precinct to St. Barnabas Hospital after he was spitting up blood.
His family also claimed they were never notified he was taken to the 52nd Precinct. NYPD protocol mandates officers call family members if a detainee is under the age of 18. The family added that Jahmel was barred from calling his mother, who was unaware her son was arrested until she received a call from the hospital.
Acevedo managed to go to the hospital, where she was initially barred from seeing Jahmel. She took photographs of Jahmel on a hospital bed with a bloody gash to the right side of his face, posting them onto social media. Police then took Jahmel back to the precinct, still in his hospital gown.
A GoFundMe page seeking funds for his family has now surpassed the original goal of $10,000 two-fold. Yahmel Millz, the organizer of the page, said that the arresting officer, who the family identified as Kevin Hickey, “produced Jahmel to both Daisy Acevedo (Jahmel’s mother) and Yamil Miller (Jahmel’s cousin) butt naked, stripped of his clothes and shoes,” when they arrived at the station to pick him up.
“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,” Millz added on the page.
"How in the world does a police officer in the right state of mind would allow an individual, a human being, to be let out the precinct in a hospital gown with their buttocks out, and sit in a cell—a dirty, nasty, filthy cell without having any clothes on," said McCall. "Every officer that's responsible must pay for what they did."
Rubenstein and McCall said the boy is recovering from his injuries, and is getting therapy. "He's just traumatized," said McCall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio—who has praised the NYPD’s response during the early days of the protest movement—promised last week that he will get answers from the NYPD over Jahmel’s arrest.
Moments before the news conference, two young friends of Jahmel had been passing through East 161st Street unaware of the presser, characterized Jahmel as a regular, good kid who liked to play basketball and hang out with his friends.
"They gotta make it a little easier on us civilians...after what just happened," said one of Jahmel's friends, referencing George Floyd.