Investigation Launched After Violent Arrests During Social Distancing Enforcement in New York

A social distancing enforcement action led to the arrests of three people on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on May 2, police said, as footage of the incident went viral on social media.

Daquan Owens took this footage on the corner of Avenue D and 9th Street, and said the incident began when plainclothes officers approached a man and a woman outside a deli at around 5.30 pm.

In a statement, the NYPD said officers observed a group “in violation of social distancing orders” and asked them to disperse, but some refused. Police said they observed “a bag of alleged marijuana in plain view.”

Police said 31-year-old Shakiem Brunson “became aggressive towards officers and resisted arrest,” while 22-year-old Ashley Serrano tried to intervene and was also arrested. Police said a third man, Donni Wright, 33, was ordered to disperse but took a “fighting stance against the officer and was also taken into custody.”

This footage shows a man being arrested by officers outside the deli. At around 38 seconds, one of the officers is seen pointing a taser at a bystander, telling him to move back before forcing him to the ground and hitting him repeatedly. Another officer jumps in and handcuffs him.

Police said all three people were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, while Brunson and Serrano were also charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

The NYPD said the incident was under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters at a briefing on Sunday morning that one of the officers involved in the incident had been placed on modified duty, Gothamist reported.

Shea said the NYPD issued 51 summonses for social distancing violations on Saturday, in addition to the three arrests. Credit: Daquan Owens/@PAULY466 via Storyful