Teen Speaks Out On Brutal Arrest
By Natalia Kozikowska
On Feb. 12, Robert Jackson, a 19-year-old Southeast Queens resident, broke his silence and made his first public statement about his controversial and violent arrest in Flushing.
|Robert Jackson discussed his January arrest in Flushing, where he claims officers violently assaulted him.
Photo by Ira Cohen
At a press conference in Laurelton, reporters were shown a 55-second video that appeared to show Jackson being pinned down, repeatedly punched and beaten by police officers of the 109th Precinct.
After being startled his first time in front of the cameras, Jackson, who is facing charges of resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct, opened up about the large scar on his face, which he allegedly obtained during the Jan. 8 incident near the precinct house on Northern Boulevard around noon.
“When I first saw my face, I was shocked. How could someone do this to me?” he asked. “I didn’t even do anything. I was on my break from lunch. I was like, ‘Did I do anything wrong?’”
The footage, which went viral on the popular urban website, WorldStarHipHop.com, was captured by a bystander on his cell phone and showed more than eight officers near the 130-pound teen, at least four of which were restraining Jackson, his face scraping against the concrete. He can be heard pleading with officers to “stop.” At least one other officer is seen kicking Jackson in the face.
Although shaky and of poor quality, the video also appeared to show a supervisor present at the time of his arrest.
The press conference, organized by Jacques Leandre, Jackson’s attorney of record and a candidate for the 31st District Council seat, was attended by some notable leaders in the Black community.
“The full community is behind Mr. Jackson; we stand strong with Mr. Jackson because we understand that Mr. Jackson is not just an individual, he is actually a whole community and this incident could have happened, and it does happen, way too often,” Leandre said. “Hopefully, we are going to bring an end to police brutality.”
William Bell, the father of Sean Bell, members of the clergy and representatives from the National Action Network and the Queens National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were all on board to vocalize their disappointment in the alleged misconduct of the police officers.
“I’m just appalled at this kind of service that many of our police officers are doing in our community,” said Rev. Charles Norris, pastor of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Jamaica. “We know just as there are some bad people in the community, there are some bad police officers on the police force, and they seem to consistently beat our young men.”
“This is how they [the police] do it – they beat them half to death,” said a passionate Bell, who tragically lost his son in 2006 after being wrongfully shot by police officers in Jamaica. “You got to put them aside – make them accountable for it. Let’s stop protecting them.”
Although Leandre refused to disclose whether or not Jackson had any priors, reports indicate he has been arrested four other times and was allegedly found to be in possession of a gun and knife during one of the arrests. He has not been found guilty for the charge.
Leandre also did not reveal the reason for the initial stop, citing the sensitivity of the case and respect for his client, but reports say the officer’s complaint said he asked the teen for identification after seeing him yelling profanities and engaging in violent behavior. Jackson then allegedly walked away, put his hands in his two jacket pockets and refused to show his hands, resisted arrest and even attempted to bite an officer.
Local leaders stood firm behind Jackson and his cause, arguing he was targeted because of his race and that the violence one sees in the video of his arrest was excessive and unjustified.
“It is not a question of who he was as a youngster, it’s not a question of what he was doing. We are not protesting at this particular moment the fact that he was stopped,” said Bob Law of the National Leadership Alliance. “We have an issue with black youth being stopped consistently. The crime most often is that they were walking while black.”
Detective Cheryl Crispin, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department, said in an email that they are “aware of the matter and it has been referred to the CCRB [the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board].”
No additional statement was given.
Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.