Schenectady Police Release Vehicle Camera Footage Of Moments After Controversial Arrest | WAMC

Schenectady Police Release Vehicle Camera Footage Of Moments After Controversial Arrest

Jul 10, 2020

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy says the city police department’s Office of Professional Standards and the Schenectady County District Attorney are finalizing their review of a controversial arrest on Monday.

In the meantime, the city police department has released more video of the encounter.

Social media video of the incident on Brandywine Avenue sparked protest Monday after it appeared Officer Brian Pommer placed his knee on 31-year-old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud’s neck. 

Later, police body camera footage showed Pommer restraining an unarmed Gaindarpersaud in his backyard after a brief foot chase with his knee on Gaindarpersaud’s neck and head. Pommer has since been placed on desk duty. The Democratic mayor has referred to City Police Chief Eric Clifford and Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens for potential disciplinary actions. 

After a brief struggle entering the vehicle, police vehicle camera footage shows Gainderpersaud slumped over in the back seat with his hands handcuffed behind him. Officer Pommer speaks to Gainderpersaud throughout the ride to the police station.

Gainderpersaud says that he needs to go to the doctor. When Pommer asks why, he says it’s because he “broke his neck.”

When the patrol car arrives at police HQ, Gainderpersaud remains seated in the vehicle. He is slow to answer questions.

Standing by the open vehicle door, Pommer is heard on tape saying to another officer “he’s sleeping.”

Gainderpersaud, who also goes by Chris Persaud, gives officers his name, though he remains still.

Another unidentified officer talks to him.

“Hey man, you can’t fall asleep. You gotta stay awake.”

“I’m not sleeping, I’m in pain.” answers Gaindarpersaud.

“Huh?”

“I’m not sleeping, I’m in pain.”

A paramedic then arrives and places a neck brace on Gaindarpersaud, who stands as he exits the vehicle. Exchanges with the paramedic were muted.

Gaindarpersaud is then put onto a stretcher before the video ends.  

Hours after the arrest, Gaindarpersaud told WAMC he blacked out during the encounter and woke up in Ellis Hospital. Police say Gaindarpersaud never lost consciousness.

He showed scrapes on his head and knee, but did not wear a neck brace and walked freely throughout the demonstration.

After conversations between police, city elected leaders, members of the Schenectady NAACP, members of the city’s Civilian Police Review Board, several police policy reforms were announced Thursday, including the banning of knee-to-head holds and restrictions on warrantless arrests.

McCarthy said he and Chief Clifford met with the group Schenectady Clergy Against Hate Friday, which the Democratic mayor framed as the “first in a series of productive conversations to discuss the role of the faith community among wider issues of policing and racial injustice.”

NAACP has scheduled a press conference for Saturday at noon to discuss the events of this week. On Monday, protesters plan to organize outside City Hall.