Schenectady, NY – The Schenectady Police Department (SPD) has released bodycam footage that captured the moment when allegedly drunken suspect went on the fight with an officer who was trying to take him into custody (video below).
SPD Officer Brian Pommer has been criticized after cell phone footage recorded by the suspect’s father showed the lone officer allegedly placing his knee on or near the combative suspect’s neck during the ensuing brawl.
According to SPD Chief Eric Clifford, the suspect’s blood circulation and breathing were at no time impaired while the officer was subduing him, and he never lost consciousness, WNYT reported.
The incident began at approximately 9:38 a.m. on July 6, when the SPD received a report that the tires of a vehicle had been slashed in the area of North Bradywine Avenue between Bradley Street and Becker Street, the Times Union reported.
The complainant said that the incident was the result of an ongoing dispute between neighbors.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Pommer as he spoke with the victims outside their home.
They told him that the suspect, later identified as 31-year-old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud, lived nearby and directed the officer towards his residence.
The victim told the officer that the suspect likely overheard him telling another tenant that the vandalism was captured by a security camera and that he was calling the police.
The victim asked Officer Pommer to let the suspect know that he would press charges against him unless he repaid him for damaging his tires.
During the course of his investigation, Officer Pommer learned that Gaindarpersaud “is on probation for life,” although he was unsure what had transpired to result in such a long community supervision sentence, bodycam footage showed.
Officer Pommer tried to make contact with someone at Gaindarpersaud’s home, but no one answered the door.
As the officer was speaking with the victims again several minutes later, he suddenly spotted the suspect walking nearby.
The victims confirmed that the man who was out walking was the same person who slashed their tires, so Officer Pommer called out to him and went to speak with him, bodycam footage showed.
The officer asked Gaindarpersaud what happened with the neighbor’s vehicle, at which point the suspect claimed to have no idea what he was talking about.
“Okay. We have you on camera –“ the officer said before the suspect cut him off.
“Bring the camera and show it to me,” Gaindarpersaud demanded.
Officer Pommer explained that he checked the neighbor’s camera, and that the footage showed the suspect slashing the tires on the victim’s vehicle.
“They don’t want to press charges right now,” he continued, before Gaindarpersaud cut him off yet again.
“I don’t care what they want to do because I don’t know what you talkin’ about!” he declared, becoming increasingly agitated. “So bring that camera and show it to me. Okay?”
Officer Pommer then instructed Gaindarpersaud to turn around and to place his hands behind his back, the video showed.
As the officer reached towards him, the suspect pulled away and began running in the opposite direction.
The officer chased him briefly before getting into a physical altercation with him, the video showed.
“Yo! Why you are arresting me?” Gaindarpersaud repeatedly yelled as he fought with Officer Pommer on the pavement outside the home.
The lone officer yelled for people off-camera to “stay back” while he continued his attempts to subdue the combative suspect.
During the brawl, the officer lost his radio, at which point witnesses alerted police that the officer needed help, the Times Union reported.
“Bring the evidence and show it to me!” Gaindarpersaud repeatedly demanded, ignoring Officer Pommer’s commands to place his hands behind his back. “I didn’t do nothing!”
The officer delivered several body strikes in an attempt to get the suspect to stop resisting, but Gaindarpersaud pulled his fists tightly towards his chest and began wailing, the video showed.
Officer Pommer’s bodycam was knocked off during the brawl, but a man and a woman could be heard yelling in the background as sirens wailed in the distance.
Cell phone footage of the suspect’s arrest was circulated widely prior to the release of the officer’s bodycam footage.
The cell phone video showed Officer Pommer using his knee to pin the combative suspect’s head to the ground during the brawl.
Gaindarpersaud was taken into custody after backup officers arrived to assist.
He has been charged with resisting arrest and criminal mischief, according to The Daily Gazette.
Officer Pommer has been placed on desk duty while the SPD’s Professional Standards Unit and the district attorney review the incident, WNYT reported.
“He run and grabbed me, threw me on the ground with his whole body and his knee on my neck, on my brain, hold my head with his hand and smashed it to the concrete along with his knee,” Gaindarpersaud complained to WNYT after his arrest.
“He smashed my head down, take his knee and smash it on my neck and smash it on my brain,” the suspect continued, according to the Times Union.
He claimed he repeatedly yelled “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’ I was blacked out when they throw me in the car and when I wake up, I was in Ellis Hospital.”
Chief Clifford has since suggested that alcohol was the reason for the blackout. Blackouts are a common side-effect of being drunk.
“There may have been an alcoholic component that may have led to him putting his head down,” Chief Clifford said, according to The Daily Gazette.
But Gaindarpersaud claims he was dying.
“If he had me like five minutes more, I would have died because I started to lose my breath,” he added, according to WNYT.
According to the Times Union, the person who recorded the cell phone video was Gaindarpersaud’s father.
The suspect and his father joined up with protesters outside the police station on July 6 to denounce what they claimed was an incident of police brutality.
They demanded “justice,” and said that the officer who arrested Gaindarpersaud must be fired, the Times Union reported.
“I don’t feel safe,” Gaindarpersaud told WNYT. “No, I don’t feel safe with these cops.”
Gaindarpersaud’s father said that police should be doing more to protect citizens.
“These officers have to stop, or they have to get fired,” he told The Daily Gazette. “We don’t need officers like them. We need officers to protect us — not to kill us, and they kill many people already and they’re still trying. This has to stop.”
“It was horrible,” the father said of the incident, according to WRGB. “I thought I was going to lose my son. My mind went to George Floyd.”
Approximately 100 demonstrators marched to SPD headquarters chanting “get your knees off our necks,” on July 6, according to The Daily Gazette.
“We came here for a purpose,” protester Jamaica Miles told the Times Union. “To make sure his voice was heard.”
Protest organizer Legacy Casanova declared that Gaindarpersaud’s arrest could have ended in his death, just like the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“This is exactly what happened to George Floyd, and he lost his life,” Casanova told WNYT. “For it to happen right here is unacceptable.”
Miles, co-founder of All of Us Community Action Group, said that protesters also plan to “occupy” Schenectady City Hall on July 13, the Times Union reported.
“You gotta pick up the phone and call every person you know,” she urged the crowd.
“We shouldn’t have to listen to another story again from our community members about how police use brutality against the members of this community,” Miller added, according to The Daily Gazette.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: