Legal repercussions for police assaults are few and far between, largely due to a cover-up mentality present within all too many departments. Not so in this case. Officers David Afanador and Tyrane Isaac are being indicted for assault after pistol-whipping a 16-year-old over a chase and alleged cannabis.
The NYPD in particular has been the victim of public scrutiny due to multiple acts of aggression against the public, but this time, two officers went too far for the department to make it go away. During the arrest of 16-year-old Kahreen Tribble, one officer hit him in the face with a pistol hard enough to knock out teeth. The disturbing incident was captured on video, and can be viewed here.
In the video, Tribble can be seen to clearly surrender, facing the police with nonthreatening posture. When the first officer reaches him, he immediately punches Tribble in the face and forces him to the ground. Tribble doesn’t fight back, but officers continue to hit him, slapping him in the face with a loaded pistol at one point, cracking teeth.
Allegedly, Tribble was seen peering into a minivan when three officers spotted him and decided to investigate. That’s when officers say he tossed a small canvas bag away and ran. According to police, the bag contained 17 small bags of marijuana, but later those charges were dropped during arraignment. The only charge Tribble faced in the end was disorderly conduct.
DNAinfo, the source of the video, reports the police union president to have defended the actions of the officers, saying the following:
“As usual, the video fails to capture the offense that resulted in police action or the lengthy foot pursuit that culminated in the arrest,” he said.
“Situations like this one happen in real time under great stress. It’s very easy to be judgmental in the comfort of an office while sitting in front of a video screen.”
Tribble’s lawyer, Amy Rameau, told “On The Inside” that her client was heading home from a friend’s apartment when the officers chased him.
“My client was minding his own business and they decided to chase him for no reason,” she said. “Their account is concocted to justify what they did, to cover their asses, to legitimize their criminal conduct.”
He’s right that the surveillance video captured doesn’t show the complete chase or interaction. However, it clearly shows officers assaulting a suspect who was not fighting back. They could have turned him around and put cuffs on him without ever using force. And if not, we’ll never know, because they never tried. That’s enough right there to determine the officers were out of line, and it’s for good reason that a grand jury indicted them.
According to a statement by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, the indictment for Officer David Afanador, the one that actually pistol-whipped Tribble, is for “second-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, official misconduct, both misdemeanors.” Officer Tyrane Isaac faces charges of “third degree assault and official misconduct, both misdemeanors.”
Both officers are nine year force veterans, and Afanador has actually been sued twice before for assaulting suspects. Those cases were settled by the city. This time, he’s facing up to seven years in prison if convicted, with Isaac facing a single year.