On Tuesday night, Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner said the Police Department is investigating an incident on Saturday that neighbors say shows police brutality. On a YouTube video, it appears that Edward Jones is slammed into a police car after officers arrested him at his girlfriend's house.
"We have been taking a close look at this and making sure there is a level of professionalism that people in the community expect and demand and deserve," said Miner. "We have by and large and I would say overwhelmingly had that. Here's an instance where that may not have happened."
Miner has openly spoken out against police brutality concerns in the past. Before she was elected mayor, Miner claimed the relationship between police and city neighbors needed improvement.
On Tuesday, Miner met with east side neighbors at Barry Park to take questions about issues important to them. Barbara Humphrey raised several issues with the mayor including sidewalk safety and parking concerns in her Westcott Neighborhood. Humphrey hadn't seen the video - but hoped law enforcement would treat everyone fairly.
"Maybe what it points to is that the police behave differently in different neighborhoods and maybe those kind of brutal behaviors happen in neighborhoods where they feel they can get away with it," said Barbara Humphrey. "I can't imagine an officer doing that here."
Both the Syracuse Police Chief and Mayor Miner said they were taking the issue very seriously but said it was too early to jump to any conclusions about what happened on Saturday.
"If the investigation bears out that it was not appropriate, you will see the appropriate kind of discipline taking place but we're not going to prejudge that," said Miner.
Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said the investigation into Saturday's incident will wrap up sooner rather than later and he will share the results when it is completed.
The man police allegedly slammed into a cruiser is expected to appear in domestic violence court to answer to a charge of fourth degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Court papers obtained by CNYCentral's Jim Kenyon describe the incident that led to his arrest. The police account of the incident at the patrol car is quite different from what appears on video that was posted on Facebook, which shows an officer planting 25 year old Edward Jones' head into the side of a patrol car.
According to an affidavit by the arresting officer, Nicholas Stuper, he responded to the home of Ashley Moyer at 202 Park Street in Syracuse because of a physical domestic complaint. According to the police narrative he was accompanied by officer Brendan Grooms. Ashley Moyer told police that Jones wanted to see her but she did not want him there while intoxicated. According to the report at one point Jones punched a hole in a wall causing Moyer to call 911. The documents say Moyer told police she wanted Jones arrested for damaging the wall.
Then comes this account of the incident that was captured on video: "While we were speaking with Moyer, Jones walked to the sidewalk and stated, what are you going to arrest me for, drinking this on the sidewalk, and then started drinking his beer. Jones was placed in handcuffs and then positioned on the side of the patrol vehicle, while opening the rear door, he rubbed against the driver side mirror causing the plastic to break. Jones was placed in the rear of the patrol vehicle and informed us that he was at the residence to see his family. He claimed he punched a hole in the wall because he was intoxicated."
CNYCentral was also contacted today by the woman who recorded the video, Tamita Torrance, who told us the, "Cops came knocking on my door yesterday at about 8 a.m." Torrance says she did not answer the door because, "the only people I will talk to is internal affairs." The internal affairs investigation was launched at the orders of Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler after the video appeared on Facebook. Fowler and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner issued a joint statement yesterday saying, "We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation of this matter and taking appropriate action. We take this incident very seriously and are exercising the diligence it deserves."
Police have not released the name of the officer who is pictured in the incident with Jones.Click to read the arrest report, the criminal complaint and court documents #1, document #2 and document #3.
A video posted on CNY Central's Facebook page is generating plenty of outrage and debate.
It was uploaded to our Facebook page Monday morning.
The person who posted it calls it police brutality, claiming the incident happened Saturday on Park Street near Oak Street.
We contacted Sgt. Tom Connellan of the Syracuse Police Department for comment. He says Syracuse police have looked at the video. This is the first they've learned of it. The department has now launched an investigation into the incident by its Office of Professional Standards. The name of the officer has not yet been released.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Police Chief Frank Fowler issued a joint statement:
"After learning about the video, Chief Fowler immediately contacted the Mayor's Office and the Syracuse Police Department commenced an investigation through the Office of Professional Standards. We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation of this matter and taking appropriate action. We have made great strides in improving the relationship between the citizens of Syracuse and the Police Department. We are committed to continuing to improve that relationship and, as such, we take this incident very seriously and are exercising the diligence it deserves."
This afternoon, CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, with the help of witnesses to the incident, tracked down the man who was arrested in the video. 25-year-old Edward Jones admits he was drunk and "was trying to explain my story" to police officers but he says the cop had no right to smack his head into the police car. "They're here to serve and protect...who are they protecting? Not me," Jones said.
Jones explains that he came to his girlfriend's home on Park Street after attending the K-Rockathon Saturday afternoon. He says he got into a fight at the concert and also got into an argument with his girlfriend. After she called 9-1-1, Jones says police arrived and he and the officers exchanged words. Jones was put in handcuffs. "I was not resisting arrest." he said.
Both he and witnesses claim the officers slammed Jones against a car parked in a driveway, before he was taken to the patrol car and smacked against the window. Jones says his head actually broke the side view mirror of the patrol car. He claims he suffered a black eye from the incident. Jones tells Kenyon he was charged with criminal mischief and violating the city's open container law.
Derek Ford from the Answer Coalition, a group that has questioned law enforcement tactics in the past, said the city needs to rebuild confidence with a lot of neighborhoods.
"I think there's a feeling that the police operate above the law and above society and that they're sort of untouchable as it were," said Ford.
Ford said the Answer Coalition will be part of a protest at the Justice Center in downtown Syracuse on Saturday at 2 p.m. Several groups will be raising questions about possible law enforcement misconduct in other cases. Ford said this video may also be included in discussions.
The video is already sparking plenty of debate on our Facebook page. Here's what some people are saying:
Roxanne Holdridge Green: "WOW...running your mouth to the cops gets your head slammed into a police car. Nice to know. OMG....."
Joe Lopergolo: "would you do the job they have? have you ever been shot at?have you ever pulled a car over not knowing what is inside it.some hot head who wants you dead just because your a cop? walk in their shoes,then see how you feel"
What do you think about the video? Do you think it's a case of police brutality? Should the officer be disciplined? Or do you think the officer was justified in his actions? Do you need more information before making your judgment? Leave your thoughts below.