A black councilman who says he was profiled by police has made new allegations that cast doubt on cops’ version of events that led to his handcuffing and detainment by police during Monday’s West Indian Day Parade — and police won’t refute his claims even as the department admits it is investigating the incident.
Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) told WPIX news on Wednesday that an assault on an NYPD captain that police say prompted them to take Williams and a friend into custody occurred blocks away from where the two were cuffed and detained for walking down a cordoned-off street.
“Something happened to a police captain four blocks away and across the street,” said Williams, who claims he was targeted by the police because he was black. “[The punch] wasn’t thrown at the scene, and I want to see evidence that a punch occurred during that incident.”
But despite repeated requests for comment, police won’t say where the assault on Captain Charles Girvan of the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge occurred, or if anyone was arrested for the attack — sticking to Monday’s story that Williams and Kirsten John-Foy, who is an aide to Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, were detained for their own safety.
“No one said Councilmember Williams witnessed or was aware of the captain being punched, but the fact remains that it did happen,” Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne explained, adding that an investigation into Williams’s detention has been launched.
According to Williams, he and John-Foy were headed to a luncheon at the Brooklyn Museum when several officers stopped the two men and demanded to know why they were inside a “frozen zone.”
The duo claimed they flashed their identification and said that an NYPD supervisor gave them permission to enter the blocked-off area, but the officers wouldn’t hear it.
One officer shoved John-Foy to the grass next to the Brooklyn Public Library Central branch and both were handcuffed before they were taken to Union Temple, a synagogue across the street on Eastern Parkway, where they were held for a half hour. Williams said he was on the phone with an NYPD police chief when he was being handcuffed.
“I was well within my rights to be doing what I was doing,” Williams said in a press conference on Tuesday. “If we were white elected officials, this wouldn’t have happened.”
But police contend that they handcuffed and moved Williams and John-Foy for their own protection in response to the fact that Girvan, who was walking toward the spot where Williams was being questioned, was struck in the face by an unknown assailant.
Now, Williams wants police to come clean.
“[The police] should cease and desist with the lies,” he said. “They should just say that they committed an error.”
Williams’s challenge comes as Mayor Bloomberg tried to tamp down the controversy, recommending that Williams and the cops who detained him hash out their differences over a cold beer — much like the one President Obama had with black Harvard Professor Louis Gates Jr. and the white Massachusetts police sergeant who arrested the professor for disorderly conduct when the sergeant responded to a burglary at Gates’s home in 2009.
“It’ll probably turn out to be just a misunderstanding,” Bloomberg told reporters on Wednesday morning. “The police have a job to do and the city councilman has a job to do. They should have a beer together and work it out.”
Williams turned down the mayor’s powwow.
“This is bigger than the three of us over a beer,” he said. “[John-Foy and I] would rather have a meeting with the Mayor and Commissioner Kelly, where young African-American and Latino New Yorkers can talk openly and directly about their experiences with stop-and-frisk and other police interactions.”