A New York woman says she’s recovering from a concussion after she was shoved by a police officer while protesting the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed during an arrest.
Multiple videos of the incident on Friday night viewed by Global News appear to show the officer walking in the direction of Dounya Zayer, gesturing for her to move and pushing her phone out of her hands.
He then shoves her so hard that she falls head-first onto the sidewalk.
In a series of videos posted on Twitter Saturday morning, Zayer said she was rushed to an emergency centre after suffering a seizure and was recovering from a concussion at the hospital.
“I want to make one thing clear about this situation. In no way was I aggressive towards this police officer and I did not even get in his physical space,” she said.
“He was walking in my direction, told me to move and because I didn’t move out of his way in time he threw me out of the way. … There was no reason for him to throw me the way he did.”
She slammed police for their treatment of protesters, claiming officers were stampeding towards peaceful protesters and “hurting more than they’re protecting.”
“I wasn’t aggressive towards the police officer, and even if I was, he should have had the self-restraint to not hurt the people he’s supposed to be protecting. That’s the point of them being an officer, they’re supposed to protect us.”
The international unrest over police brutality spilled into New York City following the arrest of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter after he was seen kneeling over Floyd’s neck for eight minutes on Monday while handcuffing him during an arrest.
Zayer was one of roughly 3,000 people who attended the Friday night protests, according to police commissioner Dermot F. Shea.
Shea said authorities made over 200 arrests Friday night linked to protests in Brooklyn and have arrested one person for attempting to murder several officers after they threw a molotov cocktail into an occupied police car.
The NYPD “take pride” in their training and encourage peaceful protest but “it’s tough to practice de-escalation when you have a brick being thrown at your head,” he said.
“We fully remain committed to supporting the right to publicly assemble, to protest, to free speech. This is at the heart of everything, everything that we believe in. But at the same time, we will have zero tolerance for individuals looking to cause harm to anyone — and unfortunately, we saw that repeatedly last night as well.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters he was aware of the video, denouncing the “poison of structural racism” in New York. He called the officer’s actions “unacceptable,” adding the city will seek an independent review of all incidents that took place Friday night.
“Any time you see a protester just arbitrarily thrown to the ground by a police officer, that does not reflect our values. That’s unacceptable and there need to be consequences,” he said.
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily press briefing that Attorney General Letitia James will conduct the review.