Video shot over the weekend on Staten Island shows a plainclothes police officer pointing a gun at someone recording him with a smartphone. The video, reportedly posted to Facebook by Maleek Simmons, shows the person filming asking, "Why you pointing your gun at me?" as the officer yells, "Get the fuck on the ground!"
"I didn't do nothing wrong!" the videographer tells the officer. The cop, wearing a collared shirt and tie and no obvious identifying markers, walks quickly after him, repeating his demand. "Don't touch me," the filmer says. "I ain't getting on the ground. I didn't do nothing wrong."
Another plainclothes officer in dress clothes can be seen grabbing a young man or boy. The officer is holding a bat. The video picks up the sound of something seemingly wooden being dropped as the person filming rushes away from the first officer. Once that cop gives up his pursuit, the videographer yells to his companion, "Just keep walking! They can't do that to you!"
Simmons told the Staten Island Advance that he was walking down the street with his cousin and a friend after playing baseball when the cops rolled up. He said that the officers accused them of having guns, and that he is the one in the video being detained. He insisted that he and his friends had done nothing wrong.
Police told the Advance that the incident took place at around 6:15 p.m. Saturday in Port Richmond. In a statement to Gothamist, an NYPD spokesperson wrote that the officers responded to "911 calls reporting a large fight involving several males armed with baseball bats." The statement continues, "The officers encountered males in possession of baseball bats. The group was dispersed." The police account makes no mention of the officer drawing his gun or of a report of men possessing guns, and the NYPD press office didn't respond to follow-up questions. No one, it seems, was arrested.
The department's patrol guide gives the following guidance to officers about when to draw their weapons:
Drawing a firearm prematurely or unnecessarily limits a uniformed member’s options in controlling a situation and may result in an unwarranted or accidental discharge of the firearm. The decision to display or draw a firearm should be based on an articulable belief that the potential for serious physical injury is present. When a uniformed member of the service determines that the potential for serious physical injury is no longer present, the uniformed member of the service will holster the firearm as soon as practicable.
No one answered at a number listed for Simmons's family.