Man tased by police during Bay Ridge protests suffers multiple fractures, heart complications

Robert Bolden suffered multiple fractures in his arm and heart complications after a police officer tased him on July 12.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

A Black Lives Matter protester suffered irregular heartbeats and bone fractures in his arm after a police officer tased him in Bay Ridge on July 12, according to his lawyer.

A viral video shows 41-year-old Robert Bolden approaching a group of officers on Senator Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues just before 8 pm — where a chaotic scene developed after a nearby pro-police rally and a Black Lives Matter counter-protest dispersed.

The East New York native then shouts at one of the officers while recording with a cell phone — before one of the officers yells, “Get back!” and shoves him, while another cop then tackles and tases Bolden, who convulses on the sidewalk before cops cuff him.

First responders took Bolden to NYU Langone Hospital in Sunset Park following his arrest, where doctors said he suffered from heartbeat irregularities, presumably from the electric shock, and had sustained several fractures in his humerus, according to one of his lawyers, Scott Rynecki of the civil rights injury law firm Rubenstein & Rynecki. 

Bolden was hospitalized for three days until July 15 and may have to undergo surgery for the fractures, according to Sanford Rubenstein, Bolden’s other lawyer. 

The police initially planned to press charges against Bolden when they brought him to the hospital, but District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dismissed them, Rynecki said. 

Another video provided by the NYPD shows Bolden throwing a hard hat at pro-police demonstrators at the Bay Ridge rally — but a witness of his arrest said the incident happened long before police tased him.

“I saw NBC4 had video of him throwing a helmet into the crowd, from my understanding that was much earlier,” said Oliya Scootercaster, who filmed the video of his arrest. “It did not appear that they were after him, there was lots of things thrown at each other by both sides during the event.”

Rynecki added that Bolden’s actions during the protest have no bearing on the police’s alleged misconduct. 

“This was an unprovoked attack by the police,” he said. “This is a person who never should have been arrested. The charges that were brought were clearly never processed.”

At a press conference on July 15 outside NYU Langone, a local civil rights leader blasted the NYPD for their actions.

“It seems like the police are saying, ‘We can’t step on your necks no more, so we’ll break your bones,'” said Rev. Kevin McCall, who added that District Attorney Gonzalez agreed to open a criminal investigation into the officers involved. “We are not going to sit by and allow this officer and those officers from the 68th Precinct and the 71st Precinct be not responsible for what transpired.”

Civil Rights Leader Kevin McCall leads a prayer vigil on July 15 outside NYU Langone Hospital where Robert Bolden was hospitalized after police tased him in Bay Ridge on Sunday.Photo by Paul Frangipane

Bolden’s lawyers said Bolden is contemplating filing civil damages after he recuperates, and called for Gonzalez to prosecute the officers.

“That is what we want to see, that this police officer be arrested and sent to jail for what he did.”

The District Attorney’s office declined to comment on the existence of an investigation, and the NYPD did not return a request for further comment. However, a spokesperson for the Department said that there were no reports of any injuries to police at any of the protests held in southern Brooklyn over the weekend of Bolden’s arrest.

Update: This story has been updated to include that there were no reports of any police injuries at either the Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights protests over the weekend of July 11.