Local activists say cell phone video recorded during a 2015 arrest includes new evidence that police used excessive force during the 2015 arrest of Fabian Marshall, 27, of Kingston.
“The Kingston officers involved in the arrest must be held accountable for their extreme use of force,” said Callie Jayne, lead organizer for Citizen Action of New York.
The incident took place in September 2015.
A video posted to the group’s Facebook page shows Kingston Police Officer Jeremy Arciello approaching Marshall on Broadway, and asking him to step onto the sidewalk. Marshall replies by asking the officer why several times. The officer replies that Marshall was involved in “an incident,” then begins pushing Marshall in the direction of the sidewalk. The two go back and forth. Once on the sidewalk, the video switches to the cell phone footage. We hear the officer ask Marshall why he keeps walking away from him, then “You know what, I’m putting you in handcuffs.”
The officer then wrestles Marshall to the ground, at which point the video from the phone goes dark, but the audio recording continues. He calls for backup. The officers demand Marshall roll over and put his hands behind his back or he’ll be tased. A female witness, who identifies her herself as Marshall’s aunt, is heard begging the officers to stop. Officers order her to back up, the tasing begins, Marshall yells, and the officers repeatedly tell him to stop fighting. None of this can be seen.
Later, another member of the police department picks up the phone and we see Marshall on the ground. He says “We can lock up whoever we want.” Another says, “Take care of the phone, quick.”
According to Citizens’ Action, Marshall was convicted last Friday of obstruction of governmental administration and will be sentenced in January.
Whether the cell phone video includes evidence of excessive force may depend on one’s definition of the term.
Marshall appears not be a threat to the officer, but also refuses to comply with the officer’s requests. Some will look at this and say, “If he only did what the officer asked, this wouldn’t have happened.” If officers aren’t allowed to control a situation to question a suspect, and can’t physically restrain someone who isn’t complying, they won’t be able to effectively patrol the streets. So the argument goes.
Others will watch the same video and see an innocent man being harassed because of the color of his skin, then tased when he dares to question why instead of meekly accepting it.
Earlier this year, Kingston Police were accused of using excessive force in another arrest. In July, Adrin Brodhead, 24, was pepper-sprayed and tased during the course of an arrest for having an open container of beer on Broadway at around midnight.
Kingston PBA President Barry Rell, a KPD sergeant, speaking in an article about that incident, described the feeling among police officers in the age of ubiquitous video. He said officers increasingly feel caught between demands by the public and their superiors to enforce the law and the fear that doing so could endanger their careers.
“Officers right now are afraid to go out and do their jobs,” said Rell. “Nobody wants to go through a disciplinary hearing or a trial or a federal investigation over something that started as a guy walking down the street with a beer. At the same time we still have residents who want those laws enforced and a command that wants us to enforce them.”
Warning: Video contains language and violence which may disturb some viewers.