Justice

Cops Pepper Spray and Tase New York Man For Jaywalking

Videos emerged this week of a Black man in Schenectady, N.Y., appearing to be maced and then shot with a stun gun by police after he was accused of jaywalking.

22-year-old Shaquille Parker is accusing police of using excessive force after he refused to submit to a search when a officer stopped him for obstructing traffic. The Daily Gazette reports that the executive director of the local New York Civil Liberties Union is calling for an investigation into the incident, which has drawn some media attention.

"It was definitely excessive, excessive, because, I mean, all I wanted to do was go home," Parker told the local Daily Gazette.

The incident supposedly began when, according to Parker, a bus driver motioned for him to cross the street, which he said had no other cars coming. But officers who were in the area to respond to "nuisance activities" that day said Parker had obstructed traffic. It is unclear why the officer who approached Parker asked to search him, although Parker admitted later to having a violation-level amount of marijuana on him at the time––though he said the officer was unaware before the encounter.

In multiple videos taken by bystanders, Parker is shown to be slowly walking away from the officer after ignoring a demand to put his hands on the wall. Parker continues walking, but the officer follows, and that's when Parker appears to be pepper-sprayed. The 22-year-old appears to shove the officer slightly and continue walking away with the officer pulling on his shirt and arms from behind in what was probably an attempt to handcuff him. Two other officers soon arrive, wrestle Parker to the ground, and tase him as he sits with his hands raised.

In a second video from a different angle, Parker appears to raise his hands to his eyes before and shortly after he is tasered.

The incident occurred June 3, after which Parker was arrested and formally charged with felony second-degree assault for minor injuries allegedly suffered by the arresting officer, misdemeanor resisting arrest, and violation-level disorderly conduct and marijuana possession, the Daily Gazette reports. Parker reportedly works as a mailroom sorter at the Gazette.

City police chief Brian Kilcullen told said that his department had not received a formal complaint about the incident, though he assured the paper Tuesday that "we'll look at everything."

But civil liberties experts said that it appeared in the videos that police had escalated the situation and were out of line in the first place since a jaywalking charge does not provide probable cause for a search warrant. Melanie Trimble, executive director of the local ACLU chapter, told the Gazette that from the videos, there was no apparent reason to physically engage Parker for what would have been simply a ticket.

"This ought to be fully investigated by the Police Department, and they ought to come clean to the public what the policies and procedures of the Police Department actually are," she said.