NYPD officers beat homeless man to a pulp

Radley Balko says: "And it wouldn’t be a police beating without the obligatory charge against the victim for assaulting the police officer’s fist with his face."

Two officers from the 71st precinct, one male and one female, arrived and woke the man. Confused as to why he was being accosted by police, the man refused the officers’ attempts to escort him outside, insisting that he had permission to be there and asking that they allow him to prove it.

His pleas fell on deaf ears, and they proceeded to place him under arrest.

When he resisted arrest, the male officer flew into a rage and began to beat the defenseless man. As can be seen in the video below, the officer assumed a boxing stance and then lurched towards his victim, pummeling him from all sides.

Over the next couple of minutes the man is also pepper-sprayed and beaten with a truncheon by the female officer, all while posing no threat to the officers’ well-being whatsoever.

Cops Beat Homeless Man


  1. This is terrible, but is this more terrible because he is homeless?

    Let the video speak for itself. This is bad no matter who it happened to.

    1. Yes, it is more terrible. Or are you operating under the impression that police brutality happens equally across all axes of privilege?

    2. Yes, because the homeless are those who’ve already fallen through the social cracks. They’ve got no-one to support them after this sort of ordeal.

    3. Yes it is worse if they are homeless. The homeless are often mentally ill and incapable of caring for themselves. They are sometimes schizophrenic or suffering from delusions that prevent them from grasping reality (citation needed). 

      There are many homeless here in Baltimore City. I bought lunch for one homeless woman and sat with her for an hour listening to her life story. According to her, the police often collect them off of the streets and instruct them to go sleep in the woods. She told me there were hundreds like her, and many, many families with young children living in the wooded areas behind grocery stores and along the train tracks. 

      The worst part of it all, she says, is that the police officers direct them there. Social services sometimes visits the families, but do nothing because there is “no law against camping”.

      Of course, I can’t verify the part about social services, but I have directly observed tent cities of homeless behind the local Wawa on Eastern Ave in Baltimore. 

      For a police officer to exert such unnecessary force against a half-naked, unarmed homeless person is extremely cruel and callous. Doubly so for there being two officers. 

    4. Given that it happened because he’s homeless and in a place where the police didn’t acknowledge that he had a right to be, I fail to see your point.  It’s a basic fact of the case.

    5. Sure, it would be bad no matter who it happened to.  But when’s the last time you saw a cop beating down a guy in a three-piece suit?

  2. All charges have been dropped against the man who was assaulted; no word yet on whether charges are being brought against the cops for falsifying their report.

    1. I wouldn’t mind waking them up in their beds some dark night, for some educational quid pro quo.

  3. Well, in the officers defense, if you use the officer’s fist as your reference point, the entire universe was using that homeless man’s face to assault his knuckles.  If the universe tried to beat my fists to death with a homeless man, I would be pretty pissed too and file charges.

  4. I remember from the news of this weeks ago that a new security guard called the police because he was unaware that the man was allowed to sleep there, and the guard now says he regrets making that call.

    1.  I’ve still been wondering what might have occurred for the police to be there. Thanks for the heads up.

      P.S. I was also wondering how long the story would take to hit BoingBoing. My bet was at least a couple of weeks before now.

    2.  And 12 cops showed up.  12.

      Now we know how many NYPD officers it takes to subdue a man who’s already asleep.

  5. This is going to continue getting worse until we stop recruiting police officers from the ranks of combat veterans. Too many cities even waive the standard requirement of a degree in law enforcement to become a police officer in lieu of military service. The problem is, when you’re in combat, everybody is a potential threat. Kinda hard to “protect and serve” when you’re looking at all of those same citizens you’re meant to serve as deadly adversaries. Far from qualifying persons to be peace officers, combat training should disqualify them from pursuing that career.

    As an aside, this is how these people behave when they think they are out of sight and these cops clearly didn’t know they were being taped.

    1. I can’t believe no one has called out this blatant prejudice. Obviously lots of combat veterans can distinguish combat and non-combat situations. If you’re an American reading BoingBoing, there’s a good chance you’ve voted for a combat veteran to be president. I agree that even veterans should be well-trained in law enforcement, but there’s a wide, ugly chasm between that and barring people from things just because they’re combat veterans.

    2. You know, I’m pretty sure that members of the Armed Forces have to operate under Rules of Engagement which require them to discriminate between civilians and hostiles. In fact the USA has recently jailed people who broke those rules while in combat areas.

        1. Right Right. Haditha, where 24 unarmed people were killed by Marines. I see that as an excellent example of why the military should never be used as a police force. 

          Military training in no way prepares you to be a police officer. These are entirely different disciplines. 
          Don’t be fooled because both cops and soldiers wear uniforms and carry guns. Training as one does not qualify you to be the other. The police are to protect the people. The people are their boss and their charge. The military are trained to kill people. 

      1. In fact the USA has recently jailed people who broke those rules while in combat areas.

        Only when the incident is so bad it can’t be covered up or otherwise excused.  From what I can tell the rules of engagement provide quite a bit of leeway.

  6. Did the whole of the NYPD show up there in the last quarter of the video (aside from the hole from the NYPD that started throwing punches)? Every few seconds a few more jog into the room. How big of a threat was this guy assumed to be?

    1. I don’t understand this criticism at all. How do you expect this to proceed? Should the officers already there ask for a specific number of backup units, by predicting how much help they will need in 2-5 minutes? (assumed response time)

      “Uh yeah, the situation is approximately 278% more f’ed than we expected it to be. Send 4-6 more officers, not 3 or 7. Especially not 7.”

      Why is it so hard to believe that an officer called for help and all available units showed up? Or is the problem that there are so many available units? To that I would say that the crime in a given day does not all happen at the same, simultaneous instant.

      1. 1) calling for help beating up a half naked unarmed man is sort of ridiculous in the first place
        2) All available units showing up to beat up a half naked unarmed man means there are no available units for when a police officer calls for backup against an actual armed, dangerous criminal.

        It’s called proper use of force and proper distribution of resources.

        1. A) It’s called sharing…
          B) Who wants to tangle against an actual armed, dangerous criminal? I’ll take homeless beatings any day of the week!

      2. If you were a police dispatcher and got a call about a homeless man sleeping in a synagogue how many units do you think it would be appropriate to send?  Unless the guy is really the Maxx I think two covering it with two for backup would be more than enough.

  7. I’ve sometimes thought of police violence as an autoimmune disease, where the system that is supposed to defend the body attacks it instead. The only difference is that when your immune system goes nuts it doesn’t receive a fucking medal.

  8. I for one am happy to know that the streets of NY are so quiet and crime-free that 11 or more officers were completely available to come and deal with this criminal who was violently sleeping where they thought he wasn’t supposed to sleep. NY was just earned my tourism dollars because I know they take the safety of un-slept-on couches seriously.


  9. Hope they have a nice paid vacation and that the slap on the wrist they receive doesn’t sting too much. 

  10. We have to start drug testing cops – pre-hire, post-incident, random. They have access to speed, steroids and all kinds of pharmaceuticals. They aren’t tested because they use them all the time, and they’d lose half the force. Let’s do that anyway.

  11. They will get leave with pay and make more money sitting on their asses than I make in a year while there is an investigation. Odds are they will keep their jobs.

  12. If he doesn’t have a bank account currently, he might want to consider opening one up to deposit that check he’s likely gonna get in a few months..

          1. That’s right. It’s just another way the system keeps the poor poor.

            Any time a homeless person gets a job and receives a check, they are fined by the bank cashing their check (even for checks drawn on that bank) since they don’t have an account they cannot get since they don’t have a home.Stay classy bankers!

    1. What cheque? If the man can’t afford the basics of life, he can’t afford legal representation that will actually bother with giving him a fair shake. Why pay someone to keep their mouth shut when their words pose no threat?

      1. There are lawyers who will work for free if they feel they can win and thus take a big chunk of the winnings.

      1. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France

  13. OK, I’ll be the bad guy here. Go to 1:20 and watch. He clearly resisted arrest. And continues to resist arrest for the next two and half minutes.

    What exactly do you think is supposed to happen when an officer tries to make an arrest and the arrestee throws the policeman’s hands off and assumes a fighting stance?

    1. If that’s your idea of a “fighting stance”, I know I have no reason to fear getting in a fist fight with you.

      The man has his hands behind his back.  Then the male cop shoves him and throws off his glove, and the man takes the aggressive measure of pulling up his pants.  The cop then winds up and feints three times before throwing the first punch, and the man’s hands don’t come above his waist the whole time.

      Admit it, you’re that American who got all freaked out in Calgary because he didn’t have a gun when some guys offered him free tickets to the Stampede, aren’t you?

    2. Thanks for being that guy.

      Resisting without violence is a misdemeanor offense, you can get up to a year for that.
      Raising your hand, as if to hit a cop, is assault on a PO.
      Hitting another person is battery. Battery doesn’t have to be a hit or strike, touching a cop will typically be considered a battery, a third degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Touching, shoving, spitting and all that are battery.
      Yes, the laws are that fucked up.

      So, by law and according to this video, the sleeper seems guilty of resisting arrest, assault and battery, before the cop attacks him, unprofessionally, as if this was a bar fight.
      Those are two different things.

      Just my opinion, as someone that has probably amassed a century in possible prison time for not playing nice with uniformed authority, because they don’t.
      I’ve received all the beatings I can stand in this life when I was a child. I don’t let anyone hit me or others now that I’m big.
      The sleeper does. The attached picture shows how he opens up, moving his arms behind him, giving the cop a clear shot at his face and throat, when the cop, n00blike, “announces” that he intends to hit him and even where he is aiming.
      The sleepers motions at the time immediately before he gets hit are equivalent to that of a puppy rolling over exposing his throat and belly.
      He doesn’t even fight back at all, he just really doesn’t want to get restrained and arrested.

      Why are there so many cops?
      They would have needed them all for me.
      (Internet tuff guy-ish, I know, but I just happen to get a kick …)

    3. It did look to me like the homeless man briefly made a defiant gesture.

      Then the male cop punched him, and knocked him down onto the couch, and continuously punched him for about thirty seconds. We can see the homeless man curled up in a fetal position, protecting his face. Eventually the male cop took a break, and the female cop started jabbing him with a baton. Then they propped up the homeless man for a moment, then pushed him back down and started beating him again.

      In other words, the homeless man looked threatening for an instant, and then was continuously beaten, even though he immediately stopped showing any signs of resistance.

    4. I think the problem going unstated here though is that if an officer intends to batter, hospitalize, or even put you in fear for your life, you have no options legally to prevent that at the time. It is a shield that thugs like these two apparently are hide behind and use as a cue to brutalize people when they feel like it. The only reason this man had recourse is the synagogue recorded the incident and appears to have felt it was clearly out of line.

    5. The arrest was illegal. The man had the right to be where he was. Defending yourself against unlawful arrest is a right older than the U.S. and our courts have time and time upheld this most basic of rights.

      The most pertinent case IMO would be Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.
      “When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” 

      Or, perhaps State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260. “An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.”

      Also See
      John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. 
      State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100
      Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306
      and on and on

      1. …And the charges were dropped, so the decisions above would no longer apply.  That won’t stop the next guy from getting brutalized, or murdered.

  14. I’m not going to defend the cops here, but for god’s sake, when the police want to arrest you, no matter how wrong they might be, don’t resist, it will never end well.

    1. The police don’t need you to resist arrest to beat you. There are plenty of cases of people laying completely still on the ground and being brutalized, and justice is never served. You can be unconscious from a medical condition or a traumatic wound, you can be shouting out loud “I am not resisting arrest! I am not resisting arrest!”, you will still get your jaw broken and your ribs cracked and never, ever get justice for it if the uniformed thug wants it to happen.

    2.  Next time you’re sleeping, we’ll have some guys in uniform come around and roust you, just to see how compliant and aware you are as you’re being ripped from a sound sleep.

    1. Reason is not a reliable source for anything.   http://www.google.com/search?q=cop+fired&rls=com.microsoft%3Aen-us&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&rlz=1I7ADFA_enUS442&safe=active&oq=cop+fired&gs_l=heirloom-serp.3..0l10.3625.7203.0.7687.…0.0…1c.1.4r77rTjCggg

      Just sayin’.

      1. The title is hyperbolic to be sure, but are you saying the facts in the article, or indeed, none of the facts that Reason reports are reliable?

        I don’t agree with Reason on lots of things, but they do some solid reporting.

        If I find a Boing Boing (or Time or Newsweek or New York Times) article with a hyperbolic or factually incorrect article, it wouldn’t really be fair or reasonable to dismiss everything from that source, would it?

        1. Let’s try to keep in mind that BB is not a news site.  It is a blog.  Reason purports to be some flavor of journalism.  Also, I was responding directly to the linked Reason article.  In addition, everything I’ve ever read on that site is so heavily biased toward a libertarian POV that I can’t consider it reliable for honest reportage.  Ignoring a sector of reality that doesn’t fit your narrative does not a reliable journalistic source make.

          1. Most major news publications engage in hyperbole and poorly researched articles now and again (some more frequently than others).  It certainly doesn’t follow that they are “not reliable sources for anything.”

            Suggesting that Reason ignores reality that doesn’t fit its narrative is simply false.  



            The two head-honchos there are happy to express their belief in environmental regulations and a social safety net.  But they have no problem in explaining how those things could be managed more efficiently and effectively.

            They address reality and they suggest ways of dealing with it.  Like I said, I don’t always agree, but not agreeing with the proper role of government, doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring reality. 

  15. No, you don’t have to be resisting arrest to be attacked by police. Ask anyone in the Occupy movement.  Portland, New York, etc, police are caught time and again on video and pictures assaulting unarmed citizens who are no threat and causing no threat.  Police are nothing but legalized gangs in this country.

    1. Police are a legalized gang in every country; in a way they have to be to do their jobs.  The question is, does that gang have oversight that prevents it going too far?  Sadly, the answer is usually “no”.

  16. (reply to @margaretpoa, but the threading broke – sorry!)

    One of the most corrosive effects of the Iraq war is that from the top level of civilian control down, the military was encouraged to let that standard slip.  It’s poisonous damage that will take a *long* time to heal… if ever.

    But AllenMcBride is right; it’s stupid to make this problem about soldiers.  Brutal and stupid cops have always existed; nothing to do with whether they’re veterans or not.  The problem is that police are badly trained by a badly designed system and then allowed to be free of responsibility for their actions.  End of story.

    (Although his argument that vets have run for president recently rather badly undermines his case…)

  17. From the city that has time to outlaw smoking, transfat, and you getting a soda that is to big… can’t seem to deal with the itty bitty little issue of the police violating people’s civil rights and beating the crap out of the “less desirable” elements.

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