A police officer apparently knocked out a Clinton Hill teen with one blow after stopping him for smoking a cigarette, hitting him so hard he now has neurological problems, according to the boy’s family.
Lawyers for Marcel Hamer say he was walking home from a store down Gates Avenue with friends near Waverly Avenue around 3:30 pm on June 4, when the plainclothes cop jumped out of a blue van and accused him of smoking marijuana. He and his friends started to run, then stopped, Hamer told a registered nurse at Brooklyn Hospital Center. The cop caught up to him, pushed him to the ground, and Hamer hit his left arm on a planter rail, after which he couldn’t move it, he said, according to medical records.
A video of the incident picks up with Hamer lying in the gutter, pleading with the officer to lay off as the cop holds him by the right hand, which according to Hamer’s account in medical records is handcuffed. The undercover orders, “Turn around.”
“Mister, it was just a cigarette, sir,” Hamer says, without rolling over.
Teens, apparently friends of Hamer’s, hover nearby and the officer turns to one, still holding Hamer, and threatens him.
“Do you wanna get f----- up?” the cop says.
The moment of the apparent knockout blow is partially obscured in the footage, but the officer appears to punch Hamer in the face with his left hand, prompting protests from Hamer’s friends.
“Yo, you wiling!” one teen says to the officer.
“Yeah, get it on film,” the cop retorts.
The officer then repeats his order for Hamer to “turn around,” but Hamer is lying completely prone.
“You knocked him out!” a female friend yells.
“Wake up, Cello,” another friend says.
A second man, apparently also an undercover officer, runs over and helps the first cop put cuffs on the apparently unconscious teen, and at one point reaches into his back pocket. Hamer lies unmoving in the 45 seconds between the punch and the video’s end.
“You going to jail on that one,” another teen says.
Hamer came to when paramedics were lifting him onto a stretcher and complained of blurred vision, a headache, and being unable to properly move his left arm, medical records show. He was handcuffed in his hospital bed and officers sat beside him during treatment, according to the records.
It is unclear what happened in the moments leading up to the punch, but Hamer’s family is calling for the officer to be criminally prosecuted.
“If what happened on this video was reversed and Marcel assaulted this officer in the same exact manner, Marcel would be prosecuted, and this officer should be prosecuted for what he did,” said attorney James Ross, who is handling the family’s civil suit.
Hamer, now 17, has suffered from headaches, dizziness, and memory loss since the incident, his mom said.
“He is always complaining of headaches and he cannot remember things,” Mary Hamer said. “He used to be pretty sharp, and now I am helping him.”
Retired state Supreme Court judge William Thompson is also a member of the legal team working on the case and said the incident is a symptom of a larger cultural problem in the NYPD.
“It is pervasive now, throughout the department,” said attorney William Thompson. “It is indicative of an attitude in the police department that is, ‘Them against us. Let’s do whatever we want.’ ”
The attorneys declined to release the name of the officer responsible. Hamer was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and pleaded guilty to a violation, according to Ross.
The NYPD would not comment on the incident other than to say that it is under investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
The law firm released the video the same day as another piece of footage surfaced showing officers in Bedford-Stuyvesant punch and pistol-whip an unarmed teen who has his hands raised in surrender. Police arrested the teen for marijuana possession, according to a report by DNAinfo.
On Oct. 2, police Commissioner Bill Bratton vowed to clean up the NYPD at a conference of department commanders.
“We will aggressively seek to get those out of the department who should not be here,” he said, according to reports. “The brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent.”