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New York Police Department (NYPD) is under fire after a video went viral, showing nearly a dozen officers storming a subway to arrest a teen for fare evasion.
The incident took place at the Franklin Avenue Station in Brooklyn on Friday.
In case you’re wondering how an arrest in NYC goes down. The guy has made absolutely no indication that he would flee or fight and wasn’t trying to hide.— Elad Nehorai (@PopChassid) October 25, 2019
If you can’t see, the reason everyone moved was because all the police had taken out their guns and aimed at him. pic.twitter.com/dAstrtMntz
The video, which has been viewed over 3 million times on Twitter, shows riders frantically rushing toward either end of the subway when they see a large group of officers, guns drawn, peering into the subway car. In the middle of the commotion, a young Black teen in a green jacket can be seen calmly staying in his seat with his arms raised. Moments later, the officers storm the car, and at least eight tackle the teen before searching, cuffing, and placing him under arrest.
Elad Nehorai, who filmed the incident, told the Daily Dot that he started recording when he noticed the officers looking through all of the cars and following the one they were on as it came to a stop. Nehorai said that once the officers spotted the person they were looking for, they drew their guns.
“Up to this point everyone had been nervous, but there was no impression that it was something serious,” Nehorai said. “Then the next thing we know the policeman closest to us took out his gun and aimed it at him through the window.”
According to an NYPD statement shared with the Washington Post on Monday morning, a witness told officers that the teen, identified as 19-year-old Adrian Napier, was armed. The officers then tried to approach Napier when he allegedly fled from them and slipped past the gate, before boarding a southbound train.
Nehorai said that once passengers saw the officers draw their weapons, they quickly moved away from Napier, who was asking the officers if he should get on the ground and if someone on the train would call his mom.
According to Nehorai, no one explained to the passengers what was happening.
“The police at first weren’t interested in us,” Nehorai said. “But the moment they saw we were recording they started pushing us away and were very clearly trying to obstruct our vision.”
While Napier was supposed to be the criminal in the situation, Nehorai said no one on the train felt scared of him and were more concerned by the armed officers. Nehorai said that if anything, Napier’s lack of action made the passengers feel safe.
“It was a dangerous situation and I don’t know what would have happened if something random or small or seemingly dangerous to the police occurred,” Nehorai said. “I feel like it was such a combustible situation that it felt like anything could’ve happened.”
After tackling Napier, officers found no gun.
“Officers at the Franklin Avenue station located and identified the individual inside of the train and took him into custody without incident,” NYPD told the Post in the statement. “The individual was arrested for not paying the fare and was charged with Theft of Service.”
This all comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced in July that 500 officers would be added to the New York City Transit system in an effort to help fight fare evasion.
According to Nehorai, even though no one was physically harmed during the incident, it was still an emotionally scarring incident for the passengers.
One passenger, Yolanda Sangweni, later tweeted that she had been on the train with both of her sons and that one of her sons was later inconsolable after witnessing Napier’s arrest.
My sons were in this train car. My 10-year-old came home inconsolable. How do we, as parents, even begin to speak to them about this kind of violence? You see the trauma we’re exposed to at a young age https://t.co/QYWnqRZqXX— Yolanda Sangweni (@YoliZama) October 26, 2019
“There were people that were very deeply and very negatively affected by that,” Nehorai said. “Whether they had a gun pointed at them, or were witnessing this as a young person. We have to realize that can be traumatizing, and what we’re talking about is a systemic issue that goes very deep and can affect a lot of people.”
NYPD did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
Collyn Burke is a senior journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin interning for the Daily Dot's editorial team and Two Girls One Podcast. Her work has previously appeared in the Daily Texan and the Texas Observer.