Schenectady PD and DA probe altercation between officer and man under his knee


SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Schenectady Police Department issued an update Tuesday after video circulated on social media that showed a city police officer using a knee-to-neck hold during an arrest.

The altercation took place Monday morning. Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud identified himself as the man on the ground in the video. He told NEWS10 ABC the altercation happened after an officer approached him outside of his home about an incident involving slashed tires.  

When video of his arrest circulated on social media, protesters gathered outside the police station calling for justice.

Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford issued a statement Tuesday evening that provided an update on the altercation and Gaindarpersaud’s arrest.

Chief Clifford said an internal probe was begun by the Schenectady Police Department Office of Professional Standards where the officer’s body camera was accessed and reviewed as well as the video shared on social media. The Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office is also involved.

According to the police chief, Gaindarpersaud resisted arrest, and the officer, who was alone, was attempting to gain control of him. Chief Clifford said the officer gave multiple commands to “put your hands behind your back,” and he held Gaindarpersaud’s head to the ground long enough to get him handcuffed.

Chief Clifford described the officer’s maneuver as a knee to the head, not the neck.

In addition, Gaindarpersaud never lost consciousness and was given medical attention, the chief said. However, Gaindarpersaud told News10 he did pass out in the police vehicle, and believed he would have died if the maneuver lasted five more minutes.

In his statement, Chief Clifford asked the public to “be patient” and “that once all information is reviewed the appropriate action will immediately be taken by this agency.”

Knee-to-neck holds were recently banned in an executive order by Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.

The chief said the body camera footage will be made public.

You can read the police chief’s statement in full below:

“Yesterday, July 6, 2020, a photo and video was shared on social media depicting a
portion of a longer encounter during which a Schenectady Police Officer arrested a
male at 332 Brandywine Avenue. Upon learning of the photo and discussing it with
Mayor Gary McCarthy, an internal probe was initiated by the Schenectady Police
Department Office of Professional Standards. The body worn camera of the officer
involved was accessed immediately and reviewed, in addition to the partial video shared
on social media. Later that day a statement was released by the Schenectady Police
Department with the commitment to conduct a fair, impartial, and transparent

The fair and impartial investigation began with an immediate contact to the
Schenectady County District Attorney to seek assistance with the evaluation of all video
footage and the assessment of any violations of New York State Penal Laws or executive
orders. Multiple videos were viewed by members of the Schenectady Police
Department command staff, including myself, in addition to representatives for the
district attorney. The investigation plan was discussed, and an evaluation of the entire
incident was initiated. The Schenectady Police Department is committed to sharing the
officer’s body worn camera video with the public soon, as early as tomorrow.

At this time limited information can be substantiated, and it would be premature to
draw conclusions until the entire incident and all evidence can be reviewed. Along with
Mayor McCarthy and Commissioner Michael Eidens, I have determined that it is
important to get some known facts communicated to the public immediately.

Mr. Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud did resist arrest, both actively and passively. The goal of
law enforcement during a combative encounter should be to gain control of the
subject, situation, and achieve custody, without causing injury. At no time did the
officer attempt to impair Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s breathing or blood circulation. The
officer was alone and attempting to gain control of the continually struggling Mr.
Gaindarpersaud. This officer briefly placed his knee on Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s head to
maintain control of the subject while calling for help and giving repeated commands to
Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s family to back up. During this engagement the officer gives
multiple commands to “put your hands behind your back”. The officer holds the head
of Mr. Gaindarpersaud to the ground only as long as necessary to get him handcuffed
and immediately releases it once backup officers arrive. During the interaction Mr.
Gaindarpersaud remained vocal and never loses consciousness. Once handcuffed Mr.
Gaindarpersaud walks on his own to the police car, and once at the police car makes an
attempt to break free from custody. He is then placed into a police car and immediately
driven to police headquarters. Mr. Gaindarpersaud remained conscious for the ride, the
officer providing transport spoke to him and called medics en route to the police station
to evaluate Mr. Gaindarpersaud. Upon arrival at police headquarters Mr.
Gaindarpersaud was conscious and immediately evaluated by Schenectady Fire
Department paramedics then transported to Ellis Hospital for treatment.

The Schenectady Police Officer was dispatched to 332 Brandywine Avenue to assist a
victim to seek justice for damage done to his property. Incidents that involve resisting
arrest are never standard, and many times result in injury to the arrestee and the officer
involved. The release of a partial clip of video and a photo unfortunately tend to drive a
wedge between the community and police. I would ask that at this time the public be
patient with the current probe and trust that once all information is reviewed the appropriate action will immediately be taken by this agency.”



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