A police officer was suspended after a video footage showed a teenager being repeatedly punched in the head during a shootout between several police officers and at least a dozen teenagers near a Staten Island middle school on Tuesday.
Speaking at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams said he first became aware of the controversy when he watched an eight-second video clip on social media Tuesday night.
“I was not satisfied with what I saw,” said Mr Adams at the press conference. He said he spoke to Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell on Tuesday night and said that the officer was immediately dismissed.
Her rebuke seemed different from her reaction last year, after a video emerged of a detective knocking a woman down during a brawl while her boyfriend was arrested. Then, Mr. Adams was quick to defend the detective, sparking criticism.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, often praises the Police Department. He said at the press conference that New Yorkers trust the police and that events like Tuesday “will not erode the relationship the people of this city have with the men and women in the New York City Police Department.”
Mr Adams said the incident occurred as police confronted the group, who appeared to be teenagers, on Tuesday afternoon after two teenagers attacked a girl.
It remains unclear what exactly led to the moments recorded in the video, including how much time passed between the initial attack on the girl and the argument between police and the youth. But the clip shows officers and the group shouting as IS 51 grinds down on a commercial block next to a small park along Port Richmond Avenue, about 300 yards from Edwin Markham.
In the video, as she drives along the sidewalk, a police officer appears to bend over and push a teenager who looks like a teenage girl backwards while a second police officer tries to catch her. His head is down and his arms are raised to fend them off.
The vice police then grabs their right fist and hits the teenager on the head, while other children gather around, holding up their cell phones to record the incident. As the officer continues to attack, the two teenagers seem to be trying to pull him back.
“Is he hitting her?” One person says it in the video.
The police officer appears to have hit the teenager with a closed fist at least six times before the clip ended.
An unnamed police officer has been suspended pending an internal investigation into the incident, the Police Department announced on Twitter. Mr Adams said police will look at body camera footage and video posted on social media.
The Police Department did not respond Wednesday to questions about the details of the incident, including which police officer was suspended or whether he was unpaid.
A spokesperson for the city’s Education Department on Wednesday said the agency cannot disclose personal information about the students and declined to comment on whether the teens in the video attended IS 51 Edwin Markham.
City Council member Kamillah Hanks, representing the area where the debate took place, wrote on Twitter that the clash occurred shortly after school was closed. He said he had requested an investigation from the Police Department.
“I was encouraged by the NYPD’s prompt and appropriate response to this issue,” he wrote. Let me be clear, violence against our children is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”