Wall Street Journal
July 26, 2014


Victim of Alleged NYPD Stomping Appears with Eric Garner’s Family

By Mark Morales

A week after a Staten Island man’s death following an alleged chokehold by a New York City police officer, another man whose violent run-in with police was also caught on video briefly spoke about his experience Saturday.

Jahmil-El Cuffee, 32 years old, and his family joined the Rev. Al Sharpton  at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem, alongside family members of Eric Garner, who died last week after a confrontation with officers.

“I just want it all to stop,” said Mr. Cuffee, who is seen on the video apparently being stomped in the head by an officer. “(I’m) a little sore but I’m alright. I’ll be alright.”

The incident involving Mr. Cuffee occurred around 8 p.m. Wednesday outside 223 Malcolm X. Blvd. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, police said.

Officers on patrol in their squad car allegedly saw Mr. Cuffee rolling a marijuana cigarette outside the home, authorities said. The officers approached Mr. Cuffee, whom authorities said was caught trying to put the rolled cigarette behind his chair.

After he produced identification, the officers tried to place him under arrest and, when Mr. Cuffee refused, the skirmish occurred, police said.

A roughly seven-minute video of the incident shows officers handcuffing Mr. Cuffee. A little more than 1 1/2 minutes into the video, an officer identified by a law-enforcement official as 37-year-old Joel Edouard can be seen walking away from the suspect only to return and stomp him once on his head.

Police said the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau has opened an investigation into the actions of officers involved in the incident, and Mr. Edouard has been placed on modified duty during the course of the investigation. The officer has been with the NYPD since 2006. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mr. Cuffee was arrested on charges including resisting arrest,  tampering with physical evidence and disorderly conduct.

“My brother is not a criminal,” said his teary-eyed sister Rashida Rahim, 39. “There is no excuse to stomp a man on the ground after he was cuffed.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said video recordings of arrests never tell the full story.

“They never capture the criminal act or offense that brings police action to the scene,” said Mr. Lynch in a statement. “They present an isolated period of a police interaction but never the entire scenario. That’s why it is necessary when videotapes surface to have a complete review of the facts in every case before arriving at any conclusion.”

Wednesday’s incident comes as the NYPD grapples with the fallout of Mr. Garner’s death, which has prompted NYPD Commissioner William Bratton to order the retraining of all 35,000 on the use of force. Additionally, the two officers who first approached Mr. Garner have been placed on administrative duty, and the officer who apparently used the chokehold has had his gun and badge taken away. Separately, four emergency responders who were at the scene have been placed on desk duty.

“When I saw [Mr. Cuffee's video] it was almost like, here we go again,” said Mr. Sharpton.

Saturday’s news conference at NAN came a day after Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Garner’s family met with senior prosecutors in the U.S. Eastern District  of New York in Brooklyn for about 30 minutes on Friday. Mr. Sharpton announced that he and the family are scheduled to meet with Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan on Monday to ask him to defer to the federal government.

“We are using the model of the Abner Louima case, where Kings County stepped aside and let the Eastern District conduct the case’” said Mr. Sharpton.

 Pervaiz Shallwani contributed to this article