An NYPD officer allegedly assaulted a man for recording him on his phone.
Shawn Thomas, 47, of New Rochelle accused Officer Efrain Rojas for assaulting and then arresting him simply because Thomas recorded the cop arresting another man at the Utica Avenue subway station. He claimed that Rojas also deleted the video from Thomas' phone on Saturday after the altercation, but Thomas was able to recover it and upload the video to YouTube. Thomas also added footage from another passerby who witnessed and recorded the alleged assault.
In an interview with the website PhotographyIsNotaCrime.com, Thomas said he was recording a peaceful arrest from a distance at the subway station when Rojas started recording him in return and then heckling him. The video above shows that Thomas was indeed recording the other man's arrest from a reasonable distance before Rojas arrived on scene. After Rojas comes over and puts his own phone in Thomas' face, they start arguing and Thomas tells Rojas he is invading his personal space. Rojas responds that Thomas is the one invading his space and Thomas points out that he was recording from a distance.
The video stops after Rojas tells Thomas he needs to leave the station and cuts to Thomas on the ground in the snow. Thomas told the website that Rojas tried to delete the video on his phone, took the battery out and forced him out of the station before slamming him onto the snow-covered sidewalk.
“He then knocked the phone out of my hand and slams me to the ground,” Thomas said. “Then he grabbed the back of my head and slammed it into the pavement.”
Thomas asked bystanders to record the incident and one man did capture video of Rojas arresting Thomas, who shouted his own name in the video. The witness found Thomas on Facebook and sent him the footage.
Thomas faces charges of resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing government. Thomas sent Photographyisnotacrime.com a copy of the arrest report, in which Rojas wrote that he was in "close proximity" to himself and the other officer as they made the first arrest.