Exactly one month ago, LaSalle, 44, was recording NYPD officers to protect against police abuse, when he himself became the target of police abuse. Oh, the irony. The painful, humiliating irony, as cops grabbed LaSalle’s camera, threw him against a fence, handcuffed him, strip-searched him, and charged him with “jaywalking.”
LaSalle, who runs the watchdog group Copwatch Patrol Unit, approached three uniformed officers while recording with his camera phone, and asked for their badge numbers, citing the section of the NYPD patrol guide requiring them to provide their badge numbers.
Rather than follow the law, the officers demanded LaSalle’s identification, an order which requires reasonable suspicion of a crime. When LaSalle asked what he had done wrong and why they needed his ID, the cops threw him a beating.
“So one grabs one arm and the other grabs the other arm,” he recalled. “My face slams against the gate. I felt something snap in my shoulder.”
He didn’t struggle and let the officers take his phone and put him in cuffs, he said.
“We got you motherf—–, now you’re going to jail for assaulting an officer,” one of the officers said, according to the paperwork filed last week.
“You thought we weren’t going to get you,” one of them said, according to LaSalle.
LaSalle was taken to a police station on Ryer Ave., where he told a sergeant that he had been assaulted by the cops and needed medical attention for his shoulder. Instead, he was taken to a back room of the station and strip-searched. LaSalle spent four hours in a holding cell, was never read his rights and was never criminally charged. Instead, he was released with tickets for jaywalking and possession of a scanner.
The cops also kept his camera.
Possession of a police scanner is legal in most states, but New York City makes it illegal to possess a police scanner in a motor vehicle, which is not the case here. It is also illegal to possess a scanner while committing a crime and whether or not LaSalle did jaywalk can probably be answered on his video, but the cops illegally confiscated his camera.
LaSalle, who now plans to sue the city, the NYPD and the cops for $500,000, wants to make sure other people don’t have to suffer the type of abuse that sent him to the hospital for two days with scrapes, bruises and a sprained shoulder.
“These are the eyes that don’t lie,” said LaSalle, gesturing to his new camera. “We want these officers to know that if the system doesn’t hold them responsible, we will make sure that we blast them all over social media.”