The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is investigating allegations that an NYPD cop swiped more than $1,000 from a man during a stop-and-frisk, then pepper-sprayed him and his sister when they complained, the Daily News has learned.
The encounter was captured on a cell phone video, which has been turned over to prosecutors and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
“One of the most disturbing things about the video is the other cops standing around watching and doing nothing to stop the wrongdoing,” lawyer Robert Marinelli said Wednesday.
Marinelli represents the siblings who were pepper-sprayed — Lamard Joye, who claims the cop took $1,300 from his pocket, money that has still not been accounted for, and his sister Lateefah Joye, a professional basketball player in Europe, who tried to get the cop’s badge number.
“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft. This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer deserving respect,” said Marinelli.
The brief clip begins with the unidentified cop pushing Lamard Joye against the fence of a basketball court at the Surfside Gardens housing project in Coney Island around 12:20 a.m. on Sept. 16.
Right before the recording began, according to Marinelli, Joye remarked to the cop, “Are you going to do to me what you did to the guy in Staten Island?” a reference to Eric Garner, who died in July after a cop put him in a chokehold.
What precipitated the Coney Island incident, and is not recorded on the video, according to Marinelli, were cops roughing up a young man named Terrell Haskins nearby, prompting Joye and his friends to shout, “Is that necessary?”
A group of cops confront Joye, whose arms are outstretched as he says to onlookers, “You see this?”
The cop appears to reach into Joye’s pocket and pull out a thick wad of cash.
“Gimme my money!” Joye shouts, before the cop squirts him in the face with the spray.
Joye darts off and his sister begins arguing with the cop. An onlooker is heard yelling, “How ya gonna take his money?” “That’s robbery” and “Get his badge number.”
“I went to get his badge number and name,” Lateefah Joye told The News. “I leaned over to see his badge. He pushed me away. I saw a two and a one and that’s when he pepper-sprayed me in my mouth and my whole face.”
Lateefah Joye, a graduate of Lincoln High School who played college ball at West Virginia University, said her brother was just trying to do the right thing by helping Haskins.
“I’m outraged,” she said. “It’s very outrageous. I’ve witnessed a lot of things cops have done. But what can you do? I’m not a violent person. I’m an athlete.”
Her brother contacted Marinelli the next day, seeking legal help to get his money back.
The construction worker had withdrawn the cash from a bank a week earlier because the day of the incident was his 35th birthday and he was going to take his wife out on the town, Marinelli said.
The lawyer gave the video to the Brooklyn DA’s chief civil rights prosecutor and also provided pay stubs, visual evidence of Joye cashing his paycheck at a check-cashing store and bank records documenting the withdrawal.
The Joyes, Haskins and the man who shot the video have all been interviewed by investigators.