Amateur video in which a New York City police officer repeatedly bodyslams a teenage suspect on a subway platform caused controversy after being posted to YouTube by a Brooklyn community activist on July 26.
David Galarza of neighborhood activist group La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park was on the platform at the 45th Street station on July 19 when Michael O'Brien, a NYPD transit officer, stopped 19-year-old Sean Pagan for allegedly not paying his fare.
In the video, O'Brien frisks Pagan. Pagan appears to grip a subway ad, as the officer attempts to arrest him. O'Brien then bodyslams the teenager twice before handcuffing him.
In a phone conversation with The Huffington Post, a Sgt. Ryan of the NYPD confirmed that Pagan was charged with resisting arrest and theft of service.
"[Pagan] manipulated the turnstile and entered without paying," Ryan said, adding that the teenager also failed to produce identification.
Ryan would not comment on the use of excessive force during the arrest. Prompted for details from the incident report, Ryan referred to the video in question, saying that such details were currently available on YouTube.
“I was just in shock he really did that,” Pagan told the New York Daily News. “I’m sure there are other kids who got the same treatment or worse treatment that wasn’t recorded.”
Pagan also told Gothamist that while he was in police custody, other officers "joked and laughed about his body-slamming."
On the Web, opinion of the arrest was split. Some commenters on the YouTube post expressed disapproval over O'Brien's tactics, saying that he was too rough with the young man.
Meanwhile, an opinion piece that ran in the Daily News praised O'Brien's efficiency and restraint in dealing with Pagan.
"He has not used a nightstick, pepper spray or a gun. He has not punched or kicked Pagan. He has not shown the slightest emotion or panic," the article stated.
Superchief, a digital magazine that featured the video in a blog post, wrote that "the communal outrage surrounding Pagan’s harassment is a sentiment that we, as New Yorkers, must apply towards our demand of major police reform."
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