Video of Canarsie arrest sparks outrage

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Video showing the arrest of a black man in Canarsie drew widespread condemnation on social media.
Photo courtesy of Velvet

A video showing the brutal arrest of a young black man in Canarsie Wednesday night sparked outrage on social media, where users condemned police for using excessive force against an unarmed suspect. 

“This young man is clearly terrified, because he is being held at gunpoint by a cop (who doesn’t even identify as a cop). Like anyone would be,” wrote criminal defense attorney Rebecca Kavanagh on Twitter. “He is fully cooperative. He doesn’t do anything that would have needed more than one cop to calmly arrest him.”

The footage shows a police officer holding 20-year-old Fitzroy Gayle against a wall, while the young man pleads to know why he’s being arrested. Eventually, a group of other officers arrive and hurl Gayle to the ground, where he can be heard screaming in terror. 

Gayle’s arrest follows policies enacted by District Attorney Eric Gonzalez that largely decriminalize marijuana possession in Brooklyn, where the prosecutor claims enforcement of the state’s drug laws disproportionately impact young men of color.

A spokeswoman for Gonzalez said his office would review Gayle’s case. 

“We are aware of the concerns regarding this arrest and will be reviewing the incident,” said Helen Peterson. 

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea addressed Gayle’s arrest at a press conference Thursday, where he admitted that some aspects of the video were disturbing — particularly when one of the officers in the scuffle appears to be standing on the detainee’s ankle — and claimed that the department is conducting a full investigation. 

“The short answer is I am going to look for an investigation just to make sure I know everything that happened here,” said Shea.

Gayle was brought up on charges including marijuana possession, resisting arrest, and unlawful obstruction of governmental administration, and was served with a desk ticket Thursday afternoon, according to Muniz. 

His next court date is scheduled for March 24.