A New York City police officer is accused of harassing and then arresting a man who was recording a separate arrest inside a subway station on Saturday. The cop, identified as Officer Rojas, is also accused of then deleting the video of the incident from the man’s camera — but it was later retrieved using video recovery software.
Activist Shawn Randall Thomas claims he was standing roughly 30-feet away recording a different NYPD cop, who had detained a man for jumping a turnstile in the subway station. The officer seemingly had no problem with Thomas recording him.
The video is entirely uneventful for about four minutes. The officer who detained the turnstile jumper remained professional, calm, and collected as he asserted control over the situation. The suspect did not appear to be disorderly.
Then Officer Rojas is seen arriving on the scene, quickly taking notice of Thomas recording the arrest. Rojas can be seen on video pulling out his cellphone and recording Thomas, walking directly up to him and putting the phone directly in front of the man’s camera lens.
After about 30-seconds of silence, Thomas eventually tells the officer, “You’re violating my personal space.”
“You’re violating my personal space too,” Rojas replies in the video.
Thomas then requested the officer’s name and shield number, citing the NYPD’s “patrol guide” that states an officer is required to provide the information to citizens.
“What’s your name?” the officer says, declining to provide an answer.
Rojas is also heard asking Thomas why he is invading the officers’ personal space, to which he replied: “You walked 30 feet to me.”
The tense exchange continues for several minutes with neither man backing down. Rojas also tells Thomas that “maybe” he should just arrest him. Eventually, Thomas loses his cool and tells the officer to “back the f*** up” and get out of his personal space.
“This is my station, right here,” Rojas tells him.
“This is not your station, you’re a public servant,” Thomas shoots back. “This belongs to the public and you’re a servant, and you’re disrespecting me and you’re harassing me. Now again, can you back the f*** up.”
Shortly after what the officer described as the fourth time Thomas cursed at him, the video claims Rojas began his “unlawful physical assault” on Thomas. Because the video becomes shaky and then cuts off, it’s currently impossible to know for sure what occurred during the arrest. At this point we only have Thomas’s version of the arrest.
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