An investigation of a noise complaint in Inwood ended with a 33-year-old man being placed in a chokehold, shot with a taser and charged with assaulting a police officer, reports and police officials said.
Thomas Medina, 33, was arrested shortly after midnight on July 15 when two officers from the 34th Precinct responded to West 206th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues for reports of excessive noise, police said. The Bronx resident told the Daily News that he was listening to music on the street with friends and was preparing to leave before detective Fabio Nunez and officer Shanee Pierce attempted to arrest him.
Surveillance video released by the Legal Aid Society, which is representing Medina, show Medina pick up a folding chair and walk away from the police when Nunez comes up behind him, shoves him onto a car and attempts to arrest him. Nunez places Medina into a chokehold less than one minute after initiating the arrest and proceeds to draw his taser and stun Medina in the back, according to the video.
After the taser shot, Medina pushes away from the cops and attempts to fight them off. The two officers pursue Medina off-camera and within minutes the area is swarming with police officers and bystanders filming the altercation, according to the surveillance video.
Legal Aid Society lawyer Gurmeet Singh, who's representing Medina, called the officers' actions dangerous.
"[Medina] could have been suffocated. It's a chokehold over nothing," the lawyer told the Daily News.
Detective Nunez is currently assigned to the 34th Precinct's neighborhood policing unit. Neighborhood Coordination Officers are supposed to serve as a link between the community and the police department and give out their direct contact information.
"How does the Department expect to mend relations with communities of color when its "neighborhood" officers resort to this sort of brute force during a routine noise complaint on first impulse. We call for a full and thorough investigation into Detective Fabio Nunez and his conduct as well as for the Manhattan DA's office to drop all charges against Mr. Medina," Cynthia Conti-Cook, an attorney with the special litigation unit at The Legal Aid Society, said in a statement.
An NYPD spokesman said in a statement that the arrest "is under review," but did not specifically reference whether the department was looking into the use of a chokehold.
"Police officers responded to the Washington Heights location over a loud noise complaint. The suspect physically resisted arrest for a prolonged period of time. One officer was bitten by the suspect. Despite officers continued attempts to deescalate the situation, the suspect continued to resist arrest. The suspect was uninjured, and was eventually placed under arrest and taken into custody," the NYPD said in a statement.
Medina is facing charges of assault, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct, police said. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Sept. 13 according to court records.