NY AG sues NYPD for excessive force at protests

Scenes like these - showing police aggressively confronting protesters during racial justice demonstrations in New York City -- have prompted a new federal lawsuit against the NYPD.

New York attorney general Letitia James on Thursday sued New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and the city's police commissioner over allegations the police used excessive force against protesters after the killing of Floyd in May of last year.

JAMES: "As the demonstrations continued, the very thing being protested, aggressive actions of law enforcement, was on public display... They used grossly excessive force including unjustifiably deploying pepper spray, batons, their bicycles, even using their fists against protesters."

The federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan alleges the police repeatedly and without justification used these methods against protesters, many of whom were never charged with a crime, causing broken bones and concussions among other injuries.

"JAMES: We all saw the chilling moment when protester Andrew Smith, his facemask pulled down, and then was pepper sprayed directly in the face by an officer...an act that was caught on video and seen by millions."

During the summer's protests, videos flooded social media showing NYPD officers dousing protesters, elected officials and journalists with chemical irritants, shoving and hitting them while they struggled on the ground and, in one instance, driving police vehicles into them.

James alleged police detained hundreds of protesters, medics and observers without probable cause.

De Blasio and the police department both said in statements they supported major discipline reforms but opposed the lawsuit, with De Blasio adding, quote, "A court process and the added bureaucracy of a federal monitor will not speed up this work."