The New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) demanded that the district attorney invoke felony charges against those accused of throwing water or other substances at officers. The call came after viral videos surfaced on Monday showing officers being doused or pelted while onlookers jeered.
"At a minimum, there should be a felony charge for assaulting a police officer by throwing or spraying water or any other substance, and a misdemeanor charge for the attempt to do so. It’s time for lawmakers to take a stand against disorder, on behalf of their constituents and the cops who protect them,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement Tuesday. He said that under current law, officers can make arrests or write tickets in such instances, but in most cases they will not be criminally prosecuted by the DA.
“Since these outrageous videos surfaced, a chorus of lawmakers has condemned the behavior as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disrespectful.’ We have been down this road before — words of support are meaningless if they’re not backed up by concrete action to address the lawlessness on our streets,” Lynch said.
“The chaos will continue to escalate unless something changes."
On Tuesday, another video circulated by the NYC PBA Twitter account showed a man on a subway yelling epithets at two police officers, declaring it his First Amendment right to verbally abuse cops.
On Monday, after intense heat gave way to torrential downpours in New York City, a person was caught on camera hurling a red bucket that hit an officer in the head while he was making an arrest in Harlem. Groups of bystanders could be heard mocking and taunting the officers as people continued to splash the officers with water.
A similar incident was recorded in Brooklyn, where uniformed officers were drenched as they walked on the street. One man approached an officer and poured a bucket of water directly over his head. The officers stayed calm, according to reports.
"I think that it showed tremendous restraint, self-respect and dignity on the part of the police officer," New York City Council Member Eric Ulrich said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I think that he made every cop and every police officer in this city proud yesterday, but at the same time he was humiliated and there was no reason for that."
Ulrich and other members of the council echoed the sentiments of the PBA, demanding "zero tolerance" and prosecution for attackers of law enforcement.
"The people who are responsible for these crimes, they need to be prosecuted, they need to be held accountable, and yes, they need to be charged with a felony," Ulrich said.