A Schenectady police officer put his knee on a suspect’s head during an arrest after responding to a call about damaged property Monday, Schenectady police chief Eric Clifford said.
The officer was dispatched to Brandywine Avenue on Monday morning for a report of a vehicle that had its tires slashed, Schenectady Police said in a news release. Schenectady is about 20 miles northwest of Albany, New York.
The complainant alleged that a male neighbor had damaged his tires as part of an ongoing dispute between them and said he had video surveillance of the incident. The officer interviewed the alleged suspect and moved to detain him for further investigation.
Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud resisted arrest so the officer, who was alone, “briefly placed his knee on Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s head to maintain control” while calling for help and giving repeated commands to the man’s family, who were also present, to stay back, the chief said.
“The officer holds the head of Mr. Gaindarpersaud to the ground only as long as necessary to get him handcuffed and immediately releases it once backup officers arrive.”
“Smashing my head to the concrete,”Gaindarpersaud told CNN affiliate Spectrum News Albany. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do nothing.”
Gaindarpersaud said he sustained injuries from the encounter and passed out in the back of the squad car, according to the news outlet.
CNN reached out to Gaindarpersaud for further comment but did not immediately hear back.
‘You got your foot on his head’
A video circulating on social media appears to show the officer’s knee on Gaindarpersaud’s head while someone can be heard saying, “You got your foot on his head!”
Schenectady Police said they are aware of the video circulating on social media showing part of the incident and that it’s currently being reviewed by the department’s Office of Professional Standards.
“At no time did the officer attempt to impair Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s breathing or blood circulation,” Clifford said. “Upon arrival at police headquarters Mr. Gaindarpersaud was conscious and immediately evaluated by Schenectady Fire Department paramedics then transported to Ellis Hospital for treatment.”
The NAACP Schenectady chapter told CNN they are “outraged and demand a thorough investigation of this incident.”
“We demand that all citizens be treated equally regardless of their race or ethnicity,” said the NAACP in a statement shared with CNN. “We are in a critical time, and any inexcusable behavior by law enforcement must be addressed immediately.”
An internal investigation was ordered by Mayor Gary McCarty and is underway by the Schenectady Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards. The officer’s body worn camera video may be shared with the public as early as tomorrow, said Clifford in the statement.
“The release of a partial clip of video and a photo unfortunately tend to drive a wedge between the community and police,” the chief said. “I would ask that at this time the public be patient with the current probe and trust that once all information is reviewed the appropriate action will immediately be taken by this agency.”