Brooklyn Police Beat Gay Man and Use Homophobic Slurs, Victim and Friends Say [VIDEO]

josh-12_edit.jpg
Caleb Ferguson
A 26-year-old gay man was beaten eight days ago just outside Brooklyn's 79th Police Precinct by police officers who made homosexual slurs, the victim and two of his roommates who witnessed the incident tell the Voice.

The encounter, which took place around 4 a.m. on Sunday, June 2, and is under investigation by NYPD Internal Affairs, erupted after an officer standing in the precinct parking lot mistakenly accused one of the men of urinating on the side of the stationhouse, and then called in as many as 5 other cops to join in the assault.

Williamsburg waiter Josh Williams [pictured above], 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, suffered a laceration on his face that required four stitches, bruised ribs, a black eye, and scrape on his torso. Williams and his roommates--Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, both 24--were then arrested on specious charges in what they call an effort to cover-up the attack. Maenza made an iPhone video of a portion of the incident.

The Voice has also learned that NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau started investigating after someone apparently associated with the precinct filed a complaint.

"This case is so extreme in how the encounter escalated so fast over something so silly and turned so violent," says Williams' lawyer, Cynthia Conti-Cook. "Based on how the incident started, there's very little to justify such extreme action other than homophobia."

Williams moved to New York from San Francisco fairly recently. He told the Voice in an interview Friday, "Thinking about it right now, I'm feeling very shaky. I'm a wreck--confused, angry--over the fact that people who are supposed to protect me did this to me for absolutely no reason."

Williams' ordeal began as the three men walked past the 79th Precinct stationhouse at 263 Tompkins Avenue. Williams told his roommates he needed to take a piss, but they told him to wait as they were almost home. An officer standing in the precinct parking lot shouted at them, asking if he had just urinated on the building. Williams said, "no."

"The officer shouted, 'Did you really just piss on the precinct?'" Collins says. "Josh says no. The officer didn't go over and check whether the building had actually been peed on."

The officer called them over. Williams and Collins complied, and the officer asked for their ID cards. Collins asked whether they were being detained. "He rolled his eyes and sort of snapped, twisting an arm behind my back and slamming me against a car," Williams says. "I was able to ask him what was going on, and he slammed me against the car and pepper-sprayed me. I was blinded and disoriented."

Collins: "He put his hand on Josh's neck and pushed his face into the hood of the car twice and pepper-sprayed him. Josh never tried to resist or run away."

Williams says he remembers then being tossed against a fence and then a number of officers putting their hands on him. "I get slammed to the ground and cuffed and then pepper-sprayed again. I remember yelling, 'Why are you so angry?' From there I don't remember much."

Other officers shoved Collins backward several feet and called him a "fucking asshole." "Josh was picked up and slammed on his face into the sidewalk and maced again," Collins says.

Maenza was watching the incident from the sidewalk and videotaping with his phone. "Josh is on the ground, he's surrounded by officers, he's been maced, and they pick him up and take him into the precinct," he says. "At that point, one of the officers called us 'faggots.'"

Collins recalled that the officer called them, "fucking faggots."

Handcuffed, temporarily blinded, and bleeding, Williams was dragged into the stationhouse, and left in a holding cell. He was given a charge of resisting arrest. It took several hours for a paramedic to arrive to treat his injuries and by then, his wrists had swelled alarmingly.

While he was finally in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, he says an officer remarked, "We better not tell him where the soap is." After he was treated, he was taken back to the precinct, where he was fingerprinted and sent to central booking. He was arraigned at some point the following day, Monday, June 3, more than 24 hours after the initial encounter.

Rewind to the moment just after Williams was taken, handcuffed, into the precinct. Maenza says cops told him and Collins to go home. He mentioned to one officer that he had recorded the incident on his phone. "We don't get halfway down the block when six or seven cops surround us," he says. "I'm asking, 'Are we being detained?' They handcuff us, and take us into the station, and one of the cops says, 'Don't worry, we'll find something to charge you with.'"

josh-4_edit.jpg
Caleb Ferguson
Collins says he was slammed against a parked van and handcuffed. "I asked repeatedly what we were being charged with, and I wasn't able to get an answer.

"I believe they arrested us because when the last officer who called us faggots, Tony told him that we had the incident on video, and I'm sure he relayed that information inside and they then decided to follow us outside and arrest us."

Conti-Cook says that Maenza told her that precinct cops may have tried to access his phone to delete the video, but could not get past his security password.

While they were in a holding cell with other arrestees at the precinct, Collins says the ordeal turned into something out of Animal Farm. Two of the men in the cell were taunting each other, but cops let it go on for more than an hour, despite other inmates asking them to separate the two antagonists. "The cops are ignoring them, playing on their iPhones," he says. "Then, they started fighting. Cops started yelling at them to stop and pointing a taser into the cell. At one point, the laser dot from the taser was on my chest.

"It felt as if we were an exhibit at a zoo," Collins says. "It felt demeaning and dehumanizing to be treated in this way. Our safety concerns ignored by the officers."

Maenza and Collins were held for more than 24 hours and eventually charged with obstructing government administration. They took an ACD--which means their record would be cleared as long as they are not arrested in the next six months. "We conceded to an ACD because we couldn't afford to miss any more work," Collins says.

Maenza, a clerk at a Manhattan outlet of Whole Foods, moved to the city last year from Florida. "I think I was the most level-headed during the whole situation; I think I know how to handle that kind of thing overall," he says. "But to see your roommate beat to a pulp by police officers--the homosexual slurs, the excessive force, for one small person, was just unnecessary."

Collins, meanwhile, feels similarly. "it's caused a lot of anxiety for me. Being brought up to think cops are there to protect and serve and to have an experience like this completely eradicates the idea that that's truthful in the least."

The Voice has contacted the Police Department for comment and will update the item when a response is forthcoming.

UPDATE:

At the end of a slightly longer video just obtained by the Voice (which is displayed above), Collins and Maenza engage in an expletive-filled shouting argument with an officer. Both sides exchange expletives, including the officer using the gay slur, and the two civilians, who call the officer a pig, telling him to go eat a donut and saying, "What the fuck did you say, you want to call me a faggot, you fat pig ... go eat a fucking cock, nigga, what you want."

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28 comments
aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

The NYPD hates fags! So what's new?

suzinne751
suzinne751

So maybe be a little more discreet about urinating in public?  It's not like this guy is totally innocent.  People like me take it as an affront, and so did these cops.  Let's look at the whole picture.

That said, of course the cops shouldn't have assaulted this guy.  Am no fan of cops and my last couple of interactions with them have been wholly negative. 

nadiamessingerschool
nadiamessingerschool

Even if there is no real evidence that they were kicking the poor guy... there is certainly evidence that they were the ones with disorderly conduct... threatening the guys for standing there (on the public sidewalk) and calling them a fucking asshole.. these cops are ridiculous and just find any excuse to get their quota filled for the month.. of course there are good cops and bad cops.. but generally NYC cops have a really bad attitude of thinking they are high and mighty. The jail conditions are horrible. I went for a night when I was about 18 for a misdemeanor and when we got there the cop told me "They will ask you if you are pregnant.. tell them you are not because otherwise you will have to go to the hospital before going to jail" (i wasnt pregnant and had never said i was).. during the night the guards were loud, and at 5 am came, banged on the bars and said "wake up... were just checking if everyone is still alive" I could not believe how awful it was. Ok jail is not supposed to be wonderland but we are all still people.. and a lot of people in that jail had been mistreated. They lied to me saying i wont go to jail.. until i was standing in it. This was at the end of the month and i learned later that they have a quota to fill (a certain amount of arrests a month)... there has got to be a better way.. everyone makes mistakes...

TkVa88
TkVa88

That's some reasons to cause the Dumb police people like that to get killed or attacked cause they are just asking for it. Keep it up and don't ask any sympathy when your days has come to an end.

Wink Sajack
Wink Sajack

If you instigate cops like that then it shows that you have no street smarts.

michael97vanity
michael97vanity

Welcome to New York. Home of trigger happy criminal cops. The supremacists of the city are indeed the NYPD

paulwill
paulwill

don't mess with cops, i think everyone who has a brain knows that. and why does it matter if this man was gay or not, so dumb....

pendragon3
pendragon3 topcommenter

Is any body really surprised at the police officers' conduct?!?  If they sue, and I hope that they do, I hope that they remember to file a Notice of Claim soon. See a lawyer about that.  We probably won't see or hear about this in mainstream media either!

Linx
Linx

maybe the cops wanted some "action" and they were refused! That makes more sense. AAHH New York's finest at work again.......

Christopher Brown
Christopher Brown

Besides being a bunch of homophobic fat-ass pigs, there was no reason to arrest this guy! The 79th precinct is here in CRACKTOWN Bed-Stuy... You can see blacks pissing in the streets all hours, day and night but yet, nothing's done about it! I'm glad they got it all recorded. Let's have a pig roast!!!

olenholm
olenholm

"Go suck a cock, nigga" was my favorite line in this latest episode of the ongoing series "Police Abuse," starring the NYPD.  Remember the episode when they shot the dog in the face?

paulbhicks1966
paulbhicks1966

...the POlice are not your friends... ...never ever assume they are, because they are not.

yourboi
yourboi

Cops are seriously the scariest people on the planet. If they really wanted to help people they would be paramedics or firemen.

Minerva Vasquez
Minerva Vasquez

Sue them all, state and gov. Enough already! Nobody Is above the law, and if you think it won't happen to you or a family or someone close to you, think again!! We all at risk in these times, for whatever reason, race, color, religion, you name it, but we will continue fighting it. Corruption issues is wide open this days, let them have it to!!

Kimberly Boehringer
Kimberly Boehringer

Well they could have walked away and had a better chance at being heard. They made this he said he said when they broke out the potty mouth. I am surprised they didn't get treated worse once they started mfering the situation. Hope the guy is ok now.

bruvz79
bruvz79

@suzinne751 where is your proof he indeed did urinate in public or are you just taking the word of cops who you are "no fan of"?

drakoras
drakoras

@paulwill The only thing "So dumb" is what you just said.  "Don't mess with cops." That's the point. They didn't "Mess" with them. And cops don't get any special right to assault random citizens and call them "faggot". 

torsquirt_87
torsquirt_87

So what your saying is don't mess with gay people untill you f### with all the "blacks". Your a racist ass hole for saying that.

angelasb
angelasb

@Kimberly Boehringer This dilutes the central point. These police officers had no right to do this. Whether words were exchanged or not. They are supposedly trained to handle stressful and trying situations with calm, with a level-head. Well, if the word pig incites you to this type of behavior then you have absolutely no right to have that gun, that baton, that badge. The more obvious point  (and I'll stick with this because we have the video evidence) is that the police had the person in handcuffs on the ground and were kicking him... when there was clearly no way for this person to do anything else but lie there, no way for the person to resist arrest. The police used the word faggot and were using brute force and intimidation. Who can blame these three from yelling whatever insults they could in this moment? Let's see what happens when you are caught in this kind of scenario. I hope you will rethink blaming the victim in the future. 

suzinne751
suzinne751

@bruvz79 @suzinne751 Listen, I have no proof.  Just took the story at face value.  Hey, maybe I shouldn't have?  And don't get me wrong - I HATE cops and in no way are defending their actions.  And what's more my own father was a NY police officer, and I assume he was just as corrupt as the rest of them.

blackkettle
blackkettle

@torsquirt_87 No what he is saying is that gays are the one demographic to which violence and slurs are still acceptable.Okay??? Is that clear enough for you? Now stop using the race card you fracking bigot.

bruvz79
bruvz79

@torsquirt_87 No what he is saying is there is a double standard.  Not sure if you are black or white but people throw that word racist out there way too much.  I do not think you really understand what a true racist is but in my opinion I do not think Mr. Brown is one. 

tsuterri
tsuterri

@angelasb  HI - I have watched this video at least 3 times and I do not see where they kick him at all... And I was always taught that cursing an officer is an offense to begin with. and They started cursing at the police first... Of course there are always 3 sides to every story. 

blackkettle
blackkettle

@tsuterri @angelasb Its on video. I guess its okay for a cop to someone a fucking faggot. As okay as it is for a cop to call someone a fucking nigger? Right? (Im being sarcastic)

TYMAH
TYMAH

@ralph102 @tsuterri @angelasb if they wanted to give you a summons, it would be not for cursing at an officer, but for cursing like that in public, disorderly conduct. 

Section 240.20 <http://wings.buffalo.edu/law/bclc/web/nygray.htmDisorderly conduct
 A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof: ...
 3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture;  ...

realistically, these things mostly get thrown out without an actual charge for them to multiply

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