The indictments follow an incident in August 2014, captured on surveillance video, showing two officers allegedly assaulting 16-year-old Kahreen Tribble during a drug arrest. One officer hit him in the head with his fist and another hit him in the mouth with his gun. The grand jury investigating the assault case for several weeks handed down the indictment on Wednesday.
“By beating a 16-year-old boy with their gun and fist after he raised his hands apparently to surrender, these police officers not only violated his rights but also trampled on their sworn oath to serve, protect and uphold the law,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement announcing the indictment. “We must all adhere to the rule of law, which applies to everyone, including police officers, as this indictment makes crystal clear.”
Police Officer David Afanador is charged with “second-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, official misconduct, both misdemeanors.” Officer Tyrane Isaac is charged with “third degree assault and official misconduct, both misdemeanors.” Indictments against NYPD officers are rare, but evidence of police assaults is increasingly being captured on video, making it harder to cover up excessive force. The last case was of assault indictment against the police was in 2008.
Surveillance footage from the arrest, first published by DNAinfo, shows a brief chase on a Brooklyn sidewalk after police officers accused Tribble of tossing a bag of marijuana.
“The video shows Officer Isaac swinging a fist at Tribble’s head as he places his empty hands in the air and falls back against a storefront gate. Officer Afanador then runs up to the teen with his service weapon drawn and allegedly strikes the teen in the mouth with his gun. Shortly thereafter, Officer Isaac is captured on video allegedly punching the teen several times in the face while he was on the ground defenseless,” the DA’s statement said.
Officer Afanador was suspended during the probe and has been sued twice for beating up suspects, with the city handing out settlement payments in each case. Isaac was placed on modified duty, a NYPD spokesman told the New York Daily News.
“Videotaped police actions lend themselves to a rush to judgment because they only capture the arrest and not the crime that led to the arrest. We believe once all the facts in this case are presented to a jury the officers will be vindicated,” said the police union president, Patrick Lynch.
Tribble was arrested for possessing marijuana but that charge was dismissed by the judge during his arraignment, with Tribble pleading guilty only to a violation of disorderly conduct.
“He’s not the same kid he used to be, his parents will tell you that,” Amy Rameau, Tribble’s lawyer, told Reuters. “This case is only the beginning. These cops are operating with impunity. They think they can run amok. I hope this will send a message.”
The officers were arraigned on Wednesday at state Supreme Court in Brooklyn, according to the statement. They were released on bail and ordered back to court on December 8. Officer Afanador faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and Officer Isaac faces up to a year in jail.