A 17-year-old teen from the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York City, alleges he was wrongfully arrested by the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
Nicholas Simon, who has a serious medical condition, was walking home after playing in the park on June 15, when a group of officers surrounded him and arrested him. Surveillance video reveals Simon walking and bouncing his basketball just before officers jump out of a police car.
The footage shows more than three officers arresting Simon as a small crowd formed around him and several cop cars stop at the scene. The boy told News 12 Brooklyn that he still has bruises from the incident, during which he said officers put their knees on his head and back. Officers also dragged him from the ground in handcuffs, he said.
“They didn’t ask me no questions,” Simon said. “They just arrested me for no reason.”
Once in the police car, Simon said officers kept asking him where he had the gun. Simon told them he had no idea what they were talking about and repeatedly asked why he was being arrested. Officers did not tell him and instead took him to Brooklyn’s 71st Precinct.
At the precinct, Simon said investigators interrogated him and did not allow him to place a phone call. His mother, Sparkle Roach, said she did not receive a call from police, but learned about the incident from neighbors who had witnessed the disturbing arrest. At the precinct, Roach attempted to tell officers that her son has sickle cell anemia and asthma, but they gave her “the cold shoulder,” News 12 Brooklyn reported.
Authorities arrested four people following an incident that involved gunshots near where officers apprehended Simon. Simon received a summons to appear in court when police determined he was not involved in the incident.
Attorney Keith White, who the family retained, said the 17-year-old was charged with disorderly conduct and conduct threatening to the safety of others. White told Essence that he hoped to get the summons for disorderly conduct dismissed. The attorney also plans to file a lawsuit against the NYPD for how they handled the situation.
“Nicholas is going to be fine, but what about all those men who don’t have the benefit of an attorney or the benefit of a video?” White asked.
“Our concern with the narrative is not so much with Nicholas. It’s that people aren’t as up in arms because he wasn’t shot. We’ve normalized, and in ways allowed this type of police conduct.”
In an Instagram post, White said the police’s behavior is unsurprising. “No one is surprised here. Even I’m not surprised,” he wrote. “But when does our abuse stop being transactional? The city budgets include a fund for these cases. But when do we make systemic changes? This doesn’t make the news and all these politicians can ignore it because it’s normal now — it’s not egregious enough.”
White and the family plan to meet with NYPD officials, including precinct commanders and borough chiefs, as well as with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. The NYPD did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.
Data has consistently shown that Black people are more likely to be targeted and shot by police than white people. A 2018 report by Vox found that US police kill Black people at disproportionate rates. Black people made up 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, despite only accounting for 13 percent of the population.
Black people are also more likely to be arrested for drugs and make up a disproportionate amount of the prison population. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of their white peers. In 2015, African Americans and Hispanics — who made up approximately 32 percent of the US population, made up 56 percent of the prison population.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.