Police charge teen with felony assault in Commodore Barry Pool scuffle

Parks staff shuts down Clinton Hill pool after cops arrest teen
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Police cuffed a man for allegedly body slamming a patrolman outside Commodore Barry Pool on June 27, charging the suspect with felony assault, despite numerous eye-witnesses who claim that the suspect’s badge-wearing victim exaggerated his account.

Cops cuffed Kamel Hawkins, 18, for allegedly slamming Officer Frank Reddington to the ground near the Flushing Avenue public bath, which Parks staffers closed for the day after the incident.

The incident occurred as dozens of exasperated Brooklynites lined the pool’s N. Elliott Place entrance following a mid-day break at around 4:20 p.m.— 20 minutes after the pool was scheduled to open.

Hawkins and his friend got into an argument, and at one point a city Parks worker grabbed the teen in an effort to break up the fight, according one witness, Daequa Turner, who’s a friend of Hawkins.

Reddington, joined by several other uniformed officers, arrived shortly after and moved to intervened in the argument. As Hawkins walked away, the officer followed him.

The policeman attempted to grab Hawkins, who told him not to touch him, before he lifted Reddington by his arms and threw him over his back, causing him to plummet to the ground, according to Reddington’s complaint filed with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office.

Dozens more cops swarmed in and slammed Hawkins to the ground, as seen in a video of the scene that this paper published last week.

Several witnesses offered accounts that contradicted law enforcement, claiming Reddington lunged at Kamel from behind, and that at no point did the teen attempt to hurl the police officer, who merely fell as the young man ducked out of the way.

“The kid is walking inside the park, the officer — it was a white officer — he comes behind him and he went to snatch him from behind,” said Sandra Rodriguez. “The kid didn’t know what was going on so he jumped forward and the officer fell back and all of them attacked the kid and they pulled his hair — it was like 10 of them. It was terrible, I was like ‘Please, stop hitting him.’”

Another witness related a similar account and said that the other officers overreacted because they misread the situation.

“I think the white male cop tried to jump on his back and he just felt — the kid — it was a reaction,” said Joachim Carels. “He didn’t know who was behind him. And they thought the cop got body-slammed or something and they went crazy on him.”

Turner said that police failed to give the teen any warning, and that officers were too quick to resort to violence.

“They didn’t say stop or nothing, tackled him for no reason and didn’t ask nobody what happened, or nothing,” he said. “That’s not how you f—— do your job.”

A spokeswoman for police told this paper that the video of the incident did not show the assault and declined to comment further on the conflicting narratives between the department and witnesses.

“The assault you are referring to is not pictured in the video,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in an emailed statement.

A spokeswoman for Gonzalez’s office said the investigation into the case is ongoing and thanked this paper for providing the reports and videos, while not responding directly to detailed questions regarding the conflicts in the narratives.

“This is an ongoing investigation. We are examining all of the available evidence and appreciate your coming forward with this information and video as a potential witness in the case,” Helen Peterson said in an emailed statement.

Police charged Hawkins with felony assault for the alleged attack on Reddington, as well as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental administration.

He is currently out on supervised release and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 12, according to Peterson.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.