ALBANY – Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Wednesday issued a statement calling video footage of an arrest Tuesday in Albany’s South End “troubling” and indicated that associated charges were being dropped and an internal investigation begun.
Sheehan did not identify the video shared with her office, but her office later confirmed she was referring to a video posted to Facebook Tuesday by an Albany woman of a confrontation that appeared to happen at the corner of Arch and South Pearl streets.
“The footage does not appear to depict efforts by police to de-escalate a situation, nor … does it depict the sensitivity I expect from all city employees in this moment and every day,” Sheehan’s statement read.
The video depicted tensions escalating as police shouted at a man filming another arrest taking place off-camera, aggressively telling him to back up.
The man, identified on Facebook as Kimani Addison, complied but was told by the officer to keep moving back, and did so until he reached his vehicle, which was occupied by a woman who posted the video on Facebook under the name Desiree Marcia and later gave her formal name to a Spectrum News reporter as Desiree Shuman.
“I’m asking you to back up,” said the maroon shirt-clad officer, approaching the man until he appeared to be backed up against his car.
Shuman’s 10:14 p.m. post with the accompanying video:
“I don’t need to back up any more. How far do you want me to go?” said Addison as Shuman repeatedly told the officer that it was their vehicle.
More officers approached as Addison grew frustrated with their interrogation.
“Swear again, see what happens,” said the officer before walking away.
“Bye, bye. Bye, bye,” Addison said before moving to the driver’s side. “Dumbass,” he said as officers turned the corner, one of them waving.
But a half-dozen officers quickly approached and told him to get out of the car before again retreating.
One officer shook a pair of handcuffs at Shuman as she said they were expressing their freedom of speech.
“Stop running your mouth,” said the officer in the maroon shirt.
Another accused Addison of inciting a riot and grabbed him before the video abruptly cut out.
A second video shot from a bystander’s perspective shows officers grabbing Addison, wrestling him down, pinning him to the ground and placing him in handcuffs.
The second video:
Shuman was also placed on her stomach and handcuffed.
“You want to kill us,” she said before officers led the pair away.’
In her statement Wednesday, Sheehan acknowledged the work her department and performed in responding to unrest in the city Saturday night and Monday night.
“That being said, the treatment I witnessed in that video falls short of the standards I expect of our police department,” she said.
“After discussions with the Police Chief, all charges associated with this arrest will be dropped and this incident is being referred to the Office of Professional Standards.”
Hawkins issued his own statement on the incident Wednesday.
“I have had an opportunity to review the video circulating on social media of Albany police officers arresting a couple on South Pearl Street yesterday,” Hawkins’ statement read. “I have decided to drop all charges associated with the incident and I have instructed the Albany Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards to conduct a thorough review into the incident. I ask the community to continue working with the police department in strengthening relations.”
The video Sheehan spoke of was posted to Facebook by Shuman just after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
In an interview with Mercedes Williams of Spectrum News posted to Twitter, Addison said he stopped at a corner store on his way home from when he witnessed an arrest and began filming because he wanted to ensure the man’s rights weren’t being violated.
Officers were being deliberately provocative, said Addison as he recounted the events in the video in an interview with Spectrum News on Wednesday.
“I was punched rapidly a few times in the head,” Addison told Spectrum News. “Actually, I was kneed in the neck and tased when I was on the ground.”
During the incident, victims of police brutality raced through his head.
“They brutalize our citizens,” he said in the interview. “They kill us, they murder us.”
He said his fiance is traumatized after officers fractured her arm.
The full Spectrum News interview with Addison
Addison criticized Sheehan and city council members for not reaching out to him. Dropping the charges isn’t enough, he said, and officers should be charged.
And while city police officers taking a knee sets the right tone, he said, broader reforms are needed.
Addison and Shuman Wednesday afternoon participated in a march in Albany in response to police brutality.
Images: Photos from Wednesday’s march
Shuman described the incident in her post and posted the video.
“Tonight you may have seen a video of me and my fiancé. We were arrested and charged with starting a riot. This is not true,” Shuman wrote. “To start off the police were there to arrest someone else. We were talking to this individual. As they are putting him in cuffs, we start recording with our phones and exerciseing our rights of freedom of speech. This ended in them assaulting us and violating our rights.I never experienced something like this before. Me and my fiancé are doing okay.”
Shuman followed up with a post from just before 6 a.m. Wednesday that included a photo of herself sitting up in a hospital bed with her arm in a sling.
“I would of said I woke up this morning thinking yesterday was a dream. But I haven’t slept all night. APD did this to me.How am I supposed to work or even pick up my daughter ?? It’s sad Albany Police are supposed to be here to protect not HARM,” she wrote.