New York police used improper force arresting teen, review finds

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 28, 2015 3:29 PM

By Katie Reilly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A city review board has concluded that a New York police officer used improper physical force when he shoved a handcuffed teenager through the plate-glass window of a Bronx bar during his arrest last spring, the boy's attorney said on Tuesday.

The ruling by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board follows a decision in November by Bronx prosecutors not to pursue criminal charges against the officer.

The incident occurred in May 2014 during the arrest of Javier Payne, 14 at the time, for allegedly punching a man in the face, according to the teen's attorney, Scott Rynecki.

During the arrest, Payne talked back to officers, and Sergeant Eliezer Pabon slammed him into a glass window, which shattered, Rynecki said.

Payne was hospitalized for weeks after shards of glass penetrated his chest cavity and cut his forehead, Rynecki said.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson opted not to present the case to a grand jury because criminal behavior by the officer could not be proven, said spokeswoman Terry Raskyn.

The glass window had pre-existing damage, and some witnesses described the incident as an accident, she said.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board made its ruling in June, but it was only made public and confirmed by Rynecki on Tuesday.

"There was absolutely no excuse for the use of force, let alone shoving him through a plate-glass window," said Rynecki, who has filed a civil lawsuit against the New York Police Department, the city of New York and the officer.

The case now goes to a Review Board administrative prosecution unit, which could lead to a disciplinary trial, according to a spokeswoman.

"While the injuries are unfortunate certainly, we expect that the officer will be exonerated," said Andrew Quinn, Pabon's attorney.

The case comes as the use of force by police, especially against minorities, has sparked debate and protests nationwide.

Last August, a black man named Eric Garner died after a white police officer put him in an illegal chokehold during his arrest in the New York City borough of Staten Island.

A grand jury later declined to indict the officer who put Garner, 43, in the chokehold.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)