An NYPD officer harassed a man in Hell's Kitchen on Wednesday night, shouting profanities at him through a police vehicle's megaphone.
Gage Kearns said his neighborhood has been "eerily quiet" since the city shut down to only essential workers in late March, so he was able to make out the officer's voice blaring from a loudspeaker, and began recording video from his apartment near the intersection of 49th Street and Eighth Avenue.
The man rants in the direction of the police car, and the officer gets on the megaphone and goads him.
"Shut the fuck up before I smack the shit out of you," the officer says. "Lick my balls. Lick my balls."
"Given the situation right now, there's not many people outside after midnight, and they might not have had anywhere else to go," said Kearns, a 29-year-old guidance counselor for the Department of Education. "It was completely unprofessional and unacceptable. It made me feel like, if that's how they're interacting with people from inside their car, how is that officer treating people in person?"
Asked about the video, an NYPD spokesperson replied, "This kind of behavior will not be tolerated by the New York City Police Department. The incident in question was put under immediate investigation after becoming known. Our internal investigation will be conducted as expeditiously as possible."
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, whose district includes Hell's Kitchen, called the incident "unacceptable" and said he was looking into it.
Another video that surfaced on Reddit last week showed a woman screaming loudly into her phone on the sidewalk, before an NYPD officer responds through their loudspeaker, matter-of-factly stating: "Shut up and go inside. No one wants to hear about your problems."
Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have urged the NYPD to aggressively enforce the social distancing measures in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and every day the NYPD visits thousands of locations to ensure compliance.
On Monday, the NYPD said in a release that they had issued 76 summonses and made 15 arrests between March 17th, 2020 and April 13th, 2020, evidence of "nearly 100 percent compliance" with the social distancing measures in place.
The NYPD has not provided us with a demographic breakdown of social distancing summonses and arrests.
As of Wednesday more than 17 percent of the NYPD's unformed workforce, or 6,274 officers, called out sick, down from a high of 19.8 percent; 1,306 members of the NYPD have returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, though dozens of NYPD employees have died from the virus.