The NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing over the weekend included a tense fracas in the East Village that ended with three arrests, an officer sidelined and an internal probe, officials said Sunday.
Cops were breaking up a group near the corner of East Ninth Street and Avenue D around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, when Shakiem Brunsom and Ashley Serrano allegedly refused to move along and resisted cops’ efforts to cuff them, according to police.
A small crowd of onlookers gathered a few feet away during the tussle, to the apparent ire of one cop in particular, identified by police sources as Officer Francisco Garcia.
The rest was caught on a now-viral video shot by a bystander.
“Move the f-?-k back right now!” a Taser-wielding Garcia yells as he breaks away from the melee to engage the bystanders. “What you flexing for? Don’t flex!”
Garcia then holsters his Taser — only to grab one onlooker from the crowd, identified by cops as Donni Wright.
Garcia wrestles the 33-year-old to the sidewalk, repeatedly slapping his head and punching him, as another cop moves in to help cuff him, the video shows.
The NYPD said Garcia felt threatened when Wright struck a fighting stance — a move not caught in the clip — and that the cop suffered an unspecified injury in the brawl.
Wright was hit with charges including assault of a police officer, menacing and resisting arrest.
Brunsom, 31, and Serrano, 22, also face resisting arrest raps, with the former also charged with pot possession and the latter hit with criminal possession of a weapon charges for a stun gun she allegedly was carrying.
“It started out as a social distancing enforcement,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a joint Sunday press briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am aware of the video that’s out there.”
Garcia, meanwhile, has been placed on modified duty, pending a probe by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, noted the top cop.
“That’s where we stand right now,” he said.
Despite the dust-up, Shea stressed that New Yorkers emerging from their coronavirus quarantine on a beautiful city weekend generally heeded the department’s directives on social distancing.
“I would just reiterate that we had tens of thousands of interactions with people all across the city yesterday, most of them without having to issue any type of enforcement activity, whether it’s a summons or arrest,” Shea said Sunday.
All told, 43 summonses were issued Saturday in city parks, and eight outside of the green spaces, with “the majority” of the 51 for failing to maintain social distancing, said Shea.
“New Yorkers are exhibiting extreme patience for the last few months,” he said. “We’re going to ask for a little more of it.”