Police officer allegedly broke Sunset Park boy’s neck during chase

A police officer allegedly paralyzed a 17-year-old boy when he allegedly fell on top of him and broke his neck during an early-morning foot chase in Sunset Park on May 20, according to multiple reports.

Officers arrived to the scene of brawl of between 30 and 40 people outside Widdi’s catering hall at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue in the early morning hours on Sunday, a law enforcement source told this paper. The source added that some of the brawlers were restraining the 17-year-old boy when officers arrived, but that the boy fled the scene when police approached. Officers then gave chase and caught up to him at 54th Street and Fifth Avenue, where the boy allegedly slipped in the rain and fell on a car at the crosswalk. An officer allegedly also slipped and fell on top of him, allegedly breaking the boy’s neck, according to the New York Post and Daily News.

Officers then arrested the boy, who soon began complaining about not being able to feel his legs, the source said, adding that officers then uncuffed him, called his mother, and told her to meet them at Lutheran Hospital, where they brought him in serious condition. The New York Post and the Daily News quoted a source saying the boy was paralyzed due to a “critical spinal injury,” but the separate law enforcement source said the prognosis is still unclear, and that the boy is conscious and alert.

Reports also noted that the police department’s Force Investigation Division — which investigates use of force by officers — is investigating the incident, and a law enforcement source confirmed the investigation is ongoing.

But Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D—Sunset Park) — who visited the boy and his family in the hospital on May 21 — called on Police Commissioner O’Neill for “a thorough investigation and an expedited accounting of exactly what happened,” adding that anyone with information on the incident should report it to his office or to police.

“Initial news reports offer few public details, and no way to understand what took place and why,” Menchaca said in a statement. “Any interaction with the police that results in serious injuries must be understood completely by the public and in a way that leads to prevention of similar tragic events. Our community deserves full transparency and accountability for all NYPD interactions — especially ones that lead to such serious consequences. I urge anyone with information about this incident to come forward and help with the investigation.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcsh[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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