Last Wednesday evening, Adegoke Atunbi said he was walking to the bodega in East New York to get a drink, when he noticed a commotion in the street. A group of NYPD officers on Sutter Avenue, many of whom weren't wearing masks, appeared to be arresting a man while passersby and neighbors approached them.
"If I'm not mistaken that's the mayor's law—everybody should have a mask on," Atunbi told Gothamist. "I just had a feeling, so I whipped out my camera."
It's unclear why the first man was being arrested, but a few moments later, Atunbi and others would be punched, forced to the ground, and arrested.
As Atunbi and others ask the officers where their masks are, the police shrug them off. Some members of the crowd jeer at them. One plainclothes officer in a hat lunges past his colleague and begins punching a man for no discernible reason. The man is tackled and detained.
An officer wearing a bulletproof vest with a "Narco Ranger" patch featuring the Punisher logo opens his baton and forces Atunbi back. Another officer yells at Atunbi to back up, and then shoves him to the ground. Atunbi said that the officer punched him in the face, and stomped on his back and legs. "They didn't even tell me for what I'm being arrested for," he said.
"Even if they were enforcing social distancing, you would give people tickets right then and there, you don't have to arrest me."
Atunbi, who owns a medical supply company and lives in Queens with his two children, said he was given a desk appearance ticket for disorderly conduct at the precinct and released.
Atunbi said he was especially disturbed by the presence of the commanding officer of the 75 Precinct, Deputy Inspector John Mastronardi, who can be seen in the video wearing a red hoodie. He's not wearing a mask, though the 75 Precinct tweeted a photo of him wearing one that day, inside the precinct.
"If that's the inspector, that's a shame, because he's supposed to be the person in total control of his officers," Atunbi said. "Why are you all up in people's faces with no mask on, with no gloves on, touching people? It makes no sense," he added. "That's just the attitude the NYPD has, they do not care. They don't care what the mayor says, they just don't care at all. That's the crazy part about it."
Over this past weekend, the NYPD says it deployed 1,000 officers for social distancing patrols. Officers issued 112 summonses, mostly in parks on Saturday, and made seven arrests. The department has pledged to release the demographic data related to its social distancing enforcement, but has not done so.
"I would caution against anyone trying to look at different videos or different situations and see them all the same," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday morning, in response to questions about another disturbing arrest video from the 75 Precinct, whose officers have been named in more misconduct lawsuits than any other precinct in the city. "The response should be to follow the instruction of the officer, and people have to understand that."
The NYPD has not yet responded to our requests for comment.
On Saturday afternoon in Crown Heights, photographer Cindy Trinh said she was sitting in Brower Park when she saw police chase a young man into the basketball courts and arrest him. She pulled out her camera and began filming as a group of young men taunted the police officers, many of whom were not wearing masks. As the boys continued to jeer at one officer, the officer turned around and tackled one of them.
"The park was filled with groups of white people as well, they were picnicking on he grass, they were playing outdoor games," Trinh told Gothamist. "They weren't social distancing, they weren't wearing masks, and none of the police officers bothered them."
Trinh said that she's been to the park many times before, both before and after the pandemic has forced many New Yorkers inside.
"I've noticed that the NYPD has always followed the group of black people around," Trinh said. "It feels so extraneous, it doesn't feel like this is justice."