By Dylan Campbell
The NYPD suspended a Queens police officer after body cam footage revealed that he beat a handcuffed suspect who spit on him, the Daily News reported Friday.
The body cam footage shows Officer Ted Saint-Gerard handcuffing Jason Valencia for unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal contempt and violating an order of protection after resisting arrest. As Valencia is being handcuffed, he spits on Saint-Gerard who then beats the suspect until cops at the scene tear him away, sources told the News.
Valencia was in Ozone Park visiting his girlfriend, who filed an order of protection against him. Valencia was not badly hurt and it is unclear if the witnesses reported the incident.
The beating came to light when a sergeant reviewed the footage.
“I’m not talking,” Saint-Gerard told a News reporter who approached him at his home. “How did you get my address?”
The police body-worn camera pilot program started in 2014 with 60 cameras. Advocates amplified demands for body-worn cameras after several high-profile instances of police shooting unarmed black men and boy. In 2014, for example, a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
The city expanded the pilot program in 2017 and the mayor pledged to equip every officer with cameras by 2019. In January, the city accelerated the timeline and announced that all officers would wear the cameras by the end of 2018.
“You know that you’re going to be wearing that body camera, your actions are going to be seen by all. It’s a good reminder of how to approach situations,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference in January.
Officers say the cameras also hold civilians accountable and can curb false claims of police misconduct and harassment.
But not everyone is a fan of the program. Many officers have criticized the initiative as an example of “Big Brother.” Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has said the cameras are not only useless but could escalate situations.
Though studies have shown the cameras may not change officer behavior, they did capture three police-involved shootings in 2017.
In July, an appeals court blocking the release of New York City police body camera footage at least until it hears arguments in November.
An Appellate Division panel issued the injunction as the city’s largest police union fought to block the public disclosure of the footage.
It was the second legal victory for the PBA, which says the rules dictating the release of footage is “illegal and arbitrary.”
An Appellate Division judge granted an initial stay in May after a lower court ruled against the union.
The city says the court has made clear it wants a “full opportunity to consider the issues” before releasing body camera footage.
Two NYPD officers on patrol. // Photo by Torba K. Hopper