Body camera discussion reignites following suspension of officers caught on video kicking suspect

The incident comes just a month before both Suffolk and Nassau police are required by a state mandate to submit police reform plans to the governor's office.

News 12 Staff

Mar 3, 2021, 11:22 PM

Updated 1,146 days ago

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Two Suffolk police officers have been suspended following the release of body camera footage that showed them kicking a handcuffed suspect during an arrest last month.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says the incident occurred following attempts to arrest a man who they say stole a vehicle in Port Jefferson Station.
Hart says the suspect collided with two police vehicles and crashed into snowbanks multiple times before coming to a stop in Mount Sinai.
The arrest was captured on a responding officer's body camera, Hart says. While the suspect, Christopher Cruz, was standing up and handcuffed, a police officer pushed Cruz from behind and kicked the back of his leg, according to Hart. The commissioner says that officer and another then kicked Cruz multiple times while he was on the ground.
Along with the two suspensions, four other Suffolk Police Department members were placed on modified duty. The Suffolk District Attorney's Office is investigating the incident.
The incident has brought the topic of police body cameras back into the spotlight. As of now, body cameras are not used at all by Nassau police, and are used by just 10 Suffolk SAFE-T team officers. Police reform advocates want to see that change.
A Nassau police spokesman told News 12, "We are moving forward with body cams and hope to start the roll out around October."
The incident comes just a month before both Suffolk and Nassau police are required by a state mandate to submit police reform plans to the governor's office.
"I think getting in front of this was one of the things that were thought about, making sure they were in front of it, rather than having it come out and have public outcry," says Brookhaven Town NAACP President Dr. Georgette Grier-Key. "Because we know this is what has happened so many times. But given the delay and the video and the arrest, it was very excruciating to see at a time when we are trying to foster trust and accountability."
Tuesday night, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said any police reform plan would have to include the use of body cameras. When asked how many body cameras he would want used, a spokesman says the program needs to be "comprehensive" with body cameras as "standard equipment for all officers who engage with the public."
However, the Suffolk PBA president issued a statement saying he is "troubled by any rush to judgment" in this case and that he "welcomes any and all investigations into the incident which will provide greater details and exonerate our officers."


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