Video: Black Teenager Assaulted by NYPD for Smoking a Cigarette

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In what is proving to be a very disturbing—if illuminating and necessary—trend, a new video has been released documenting an instance of police brutality against a black man. Via Brooklyn Paper, the family of 17-year-old Marcel Hamer is claiming that a “police officer knocked out [the] Clinton Hill teen with one blow after stopping him for smoking a cigarette, hitting him so hard he now has neurological problems.” 

The incident took place on June 4, when a plainclothes police office stopped Hamer, believing the teen was smoking marijuana; lawyers for Hamer claim, “he was walking home from school down Gates Avenue with friends near Waverly Avenue around 3:30 pm on June 4, when the plainclothes cop jumped out of a car and accused him of smoking marijuana.” The video below shows Hamer already lying in the street as the police officer—who is soon aided by another plainclothes officer—struggles to handcuff Hamer, who repeatedly says, “It was just a cigarette, sir.”

Hamer’s friends stand nearby, saying things like, “You knocked him out!” and “You going to jail on that one.”

The police officer can also be heard responding to Hamer’s friends, “Do you want to get fucked up?”

Hamer’s family says that the teen now  suffers “from headaches, dizziness, and memory loss since the incident,” and his mother tells Brooklyn Paper: “He is always complaining of headaches and he cannot remember things. He used to be pretty sharp, and now I am helping him.”

The NYPD is not releasing the name of the officers seen on the video, but has admitted that the incident is under investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

This is one of many videos of police brutality released in the last few months; it was only yesterday that we saw footage of a young man being pistol-whipped by police in Bed-Stuy. Lest we fall into the cynical attitude of “another day, another police brutality video,” it is vital to remember that these videos only represent the beginning of what these victims and their families will face. Beyond just the physical maladies inflicted by these police officers, the psychological toll of knowing that they might be assaulted for walking down the street smoking a cigarette is something that is not so easy to recover from. It is essential that videos like this keep coming to light, for too long incidents like this have been covered up by the police department, who has been able to rely on the fact that people like Hamer and his friends would make for unreliable witnesses. Maybe now, with the threat of videos like this becoming public, police will be less inclined to act this way toward huge portions of this city’s population. So, film the police; and maybe one day there’ll be less of a need to do so.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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