The New York City Police Department has launched an investigation into the circumstances of a 16-year-old Bronx boy being shocked with a Taser stun gun during protests on June 1.
His family has alleged that the teen was stunned and beaten by police.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Wednesday that he had spoken with the family of Jahmel Leach and was “really troubled by what they told me.”
De Blasio vowed to get the family answers and said the NYPD had launched an investigation. A police spokesperson confirmed that an investigation was underway.
The incident occurred in the Bronx amid protests and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Floyd, who is black, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The teen’s cousin, Yamil Miller, told the New York Daily News that Jahmel was not taking part in the protests and was only watching and walking in the street with a stick when a stun gun was used against him three times. Miller, who also told the paper the teen was beaten and bloodied, said Jahmel has never been arrested.
Jahmel was taken to a hospital and has since been discharged. Miller told the newspaper that the family learned what happened from a phone call from the hospital.
De Blasio shared a post in his Tweet that showed what appeared to be injuries to the teen’s face and mouth.
A senior police official said Wednesday night that Jahmel was suspected of looting along Fordham Road in the Bronx and that police have video of him running into several stores.
The official said Jahmel was also seen setting a trash fire in the street.
Jahmel was apparently shocked with the stun gun by responding officers, the senior police official said. No stolen merchandise was found, police said.
Jahmel was charged with fifth-degree arson, a police official said. But because the case went to family court, where access to records is limited, its status was not immediately clear Wednesday night.
New York police officers have repeatedly been accused of abusing protesters, including driving into a crowd and using excessive force to push them back. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams posted video on Twitter during the protest that showed police officers in Brooklyn forcibly using their batons against peaceful protesters to get them to move down the street.
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said last week that he expected some officers to be suspended for sometimes violent interactions with people protesting.
But Shea also called on politicians to calm the rhetoric against the NYPD. He said officers have been shot at, stabbed, and hit over the head with a fire extinguisher, as well as subjected to other forms of violence.
On Friday, Shea announced that an NYPD officer who was seen on video shoving a woman to the ground during a protest in Brooklyn on May 29 was suspended without pay. The officer has been charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing.
A supervisor who was on the scene was set to be transferred, Shea said.
A police officer was also suspended without pay after being seen pulling down someone’s mask and pepper-spraying him on May 29, Shea said.
“The actions by these officers stand apart from the restrained work of the thousands of other officers who have worked tirelessly to protect those who are peacefully protesting and keep all New Yorkers safe,” Shea said in Friday’s statement.