Police Assault Alleged

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Tappin said she asked the men to show her their badges or give her their names to prove that they were indeed police officers. One of the officers, whose name she later found out was Stephen Weiss pulled out his badge which hung around his neck but covered it with his fist and waved it like a pendulum, she said. When she said she could not see the badge, the officer then lunged at her chest-first and knocked her backwards, Tappin said. When she asked the officer why he had assaulted her, he punched her on the left upper part of her chest near her shoulder, she said.

A Brooklyn woman says she was punched and body slammed by police officers after she insisted they produce identification badges when they claim they responded to a noise-complaint call at her mother’s apartment at 950 Rutland Road. The three officers were dressed in civilian outfit.

Leslie Tappin, 37, who is African American said the officers –all of them are white—wore jeans and t-shirts. On the way to a precinct they taunted her and accused her of being a “Kerry voter,� she alleges. She is now undergoing therapy for nerve damages to her right wrist and her back, Tappin said. She intends to file a lawsuit against the City and has hired a Manhattan-based attorney, Jay Goldberg, who is now handling charges the authorities filed against her.

Separately, Tappin has reported the incident to the Civilian Compliant Review Board (CCRB) and met with an investigator. She also filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Unit of the New York Police Department. In the meantime, Tappin has been charged with interfering with the police officers’ duties as a result of the incident and appeared for a hearing in court on September 30. It was adjourned until later this month at prosecutors’ request. “They need more time to concoct their story,� Tappin said.

An official of the CCRB confirmed that an investigation had been launched but citing confidentiality declined further comment. Inspector Michael Coan, from the office of Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at Police headquarters, through a spokesperson said: “This matter is being handled by the CCRB.�

Tappin is a secretary at a Manhattan hospital. The incident occurred after she demanded that the officers show her their badges after they said they were responding to a complaint about loud music from her brother’s radio, on August 5. The brother, Shamir Stephens, 20, lives with her mother, Sandra McRae, 57 years old. All live in the same apartment complex.

Tappin said her brother called her to say that three white men had knocked on his door and asked him to lower the music—he complied by turning it off.  When the men continued knocking on the door, the brother asked for their badges while looking through the peep hole but the officers ignored him, Tappin said. The men continued pounding and kicking so loudly that she could hear the blows over the phone, she said. In the meantime, Shamir’s girlfriend joined in a three-way phone call and also heard the commotion, Tappin said.

Tappin said she rushed from her own apartment on the other side of the building to her mother’s fourth floor apartment. Members of at least two families on the same floor had opened their doors responding to the confrontation, she said.

Tappin said she asked the men to show her their badges or give her their names to prove that they were indeed police officers. One of the officers, whose name she later found out was Stephen Weiss pulled out his badge which hung around his neck but covered it with his fist and waved it like a pendulum, she said. When she said she could not see the badge, the officer then lunged at her chest-first and knocked her backwards, Tappin said.

When she asked the officer why he had assaulted her, he punched her on the left upper part of her chest near her shoulder, she said. The officer again lunged at her chest-first and this time pinned her against the wall, Tappin said. The three officers then ran downstairs and Tappin followed them, she said.

Outside the building, again she demanded that they show their identification, she said. At that point all the three officers rushed her and threw her to the ground, Tappin said. One heavy-set officer placed his knees on her back and injured her tailbone, she said. After being handcuffed, she was then led into a black sedan. While driving to the precinct, Officer Weiss asked how to remove the battery from her cell phone, she said. When she declined to answer, she said he then yelled, “Well she’s not getting the fucking phone back.�

Officer Weiss then asked the other two officers if they thought she was a “Kerry voter,� she said. The two officers responded in the affirmative, she said. While on the way to the precinct, one of the officers turned on the radio and tuned to a rock music station and they all began singing along loudly, Tappin said, recalling that one of the songs was ‘Man on the Run.’

Keenan Davis, 28, who lives on the same floor as Tappin’s mother and brother told The Black Star News that he was in his apartment that day and did not hear any loud music. No loud music is ever played in the apartment, he added. Davis operates his own IT business from his apartment.

When he heard the loud banging, he emerged from his apartment and found that the police were kicking the door, Davis said. He went outside the building and did not witness the alleged assault on Tappin upstairs, he said. However, Davis said he did see the incident outside the apartment. Tappin and one of the officers exchanged heated words, he said. It was after Tappin yelled that the officer was a racist that all hell broke loose. The three officers all pounced on Tappin and threw her to the ground before handcuffing her, he said. “I think it was excessive force,� Davis said, of the arrest. “These were three good-sized men. I don’t see why they had to throw her into the bush and place a knee on her back.�

At the precinct, Tappin was finger printed and photographed. She was later taken to Central Booking where she spent the night and appeared before a judge the next day. After she was given the September 30 court date and released, Tappin returned to the precinct with her mother to collect her keys and cell phone. It was then that she again asked Officer Weiss for his badge number and name and obtained it for the first time.

Meanwhile, the officers had returned to her mother’s apartment on the evening of her arrest and pinned a $350 summons on her door for a loud music. But while at the precinct with her mother they spoke to an officer who informed them that there was no record of a call on a complaint for loud music, Tappin said. The officer said he would visit them and investigate their allegations, she said. But after calling to say he needed to reschedule the visit, the officer has yet to call again, she said.

A call to the 67 precinct seeking comment was not returned by press time.

Tappin has also visited with Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Council member and mayoral candidate Charles Barrron, she said.

She was treated for contusions to her wrist and back at Brookdale University Hospital and is now seeing a physical therapist. She says she gets severe headaches and shooting pain in her legs, her arm and her neck and back.

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