But if you want to understand where the pent-up anger toward police in inner-city neighborhoods comes from, scenes like this – showing the lead-up to the arrest of an 18-year-old from East New York named Jaleel Fields – are a big part of the equation.
This video shows “the everyday harassment kids who grow up like Jaleel go through,” says Martha Grieco, Fields’ attorney. “The cops treat them like garbage from the jump and then lie about it with zero consequences.”
The criminal case that resulted from this action is now sealed, so the NYPD is not commenting on it, as noted in Why Baltimore Blew Up, where this incident is mentioned as an example of the reasons behind the widespread discontent toward police. That feature is also being released on RollingStone.com today.
The following account comes from the elevator video and allegations in a civil lawsuit Fields filed in federal court in Brooklyn against the city and the two officers (which resulted in a $50,000 settlement), along with interviews with Fields and Martha Grieco about the case.
In the lawsuit, Fields accused the city and the two officers of violating his civil rights by falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting him and using excessive force. A spokesman for the New York City Law Department, which represented the officers in the civil suit, declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying only, “After reviewing all the evidence, we determined that a settlement was in the best interest of the city.”
The absurdity began when Fields, who lives not far from where 28-year-old Akai Gurley was killed in an East New York project stairwell by a police bullet last November, decided on February 22nd, 2013, to go to the grocery store.
But when he got downstairs, he ran into a female friend who stopped him. She suggested he go back inside, because there were a bunch of police officers in the building and it was better to steer clear of whatever was going on.
“She said, ‘You shouldn’t go this way, because there’s a whole bunch of cops,” says Fields, now 20. “So she grabbed my arm. You know how like people get married and walking down the aisle? She grabbed my arm like that, and I started walking back with her.”
You can see the two of them, she in a pink jacket, he in a fuzzy ski hat, early in this video. At 0:04, they arrive next to the project elevator arm-in-arm.
After waiting a few moments for the elevator doors to open, they split up, and – believe it or not, this is an important detail, so please take note – you can clearly see Fields stand in between the two elevator doors at 0:18-0:23 in order to let people out.