Suffolk officials release dash cam footage following accusations of assault, verbal abuse

The woman in the video, Cindy O'Pharrow spoke at a news conference last week, saying she had been assaulted and physically and verbally abused by Suffolk police officers.

News 12 Staff

Jul 16, 2021, 9:55 PM

Updated 1,010 days ago

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Suffolk County officials released video from a dash camera Friday during a news conference that shows a June 27 incident where a 20-year-old man was shot at a graduation party in Dix Hills.
The woman in the video, Cindy O'Pharrow spoke at a news conference last week, saying she had been assaulted and physically and verbally abused by Suffolk police officers. O'Pharrow says she wanted to ride in the ambulance with the victim.
"Grabbed with both hands, my left bicep and wrist with extreme force, yanked me to my feet from fully seated position," says O'Pharrow.
Attorney Fred Brewington says, "A lawsuit is probable and likely unless Suffolk County wants to come with their apology and check book."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says an Internal Affairs investigation found the claims were unfounded.
"The allegation that officers physically assaulted this individual for no reason is false," says Bellone. "The evidence indicates that the officers acted in the best interest of this victim."
Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron says the officer's top priority was to get the gunshot victim to the hospital and that Cindy O'Pharrow, who is not related to the victim, was delaying the ambulance from leaving.
"You can hear the victim's cousin repeatedly saying something to the effect of, 'Just get out so they can leave,'" says Cameron.
O'Pharrow is married to a member of law enforcement and involved in the organization Cops and Kids. Cameron made it clear that he was not attacking her personally.
"I am in no way indicating that she intentionally mislead us in what she told us," says Cameron. "I believe for a number of factors, including the trauma of being at a party where a young adult is suddenly shot, when you have children of similar age, that trauma can cloud your judgement and your recollection of what occurred, and I believe that's what happened here."
Brewington responded to what happened at the news conference saying, "This is exactly why an independent agency needs to exist, such as a CCRB. From Mr. Bellone's statements it is clear that he has decided for the police department that the charges are unsubstantiated, making the case that so many people in the public have made. Suffolk Internal Affairs hasn't even interviewed Mrs. O'Pharrow yet and they are making a determination. What kind of police work is that? Clearly, no civilian even stands a chance in pursuing justice. Clearly, there is no denial that force was used on Mrs. O'Pharrow."
Brewington also commented on the fact that police and the county would not release a hard copy of the video to the media.
"Transparency would be supported by providing you and Mrs. O'Pharrow with a copy to examine for ourselves," says Brewington.
As for the June 27 shooting, police say the victim is doing better but no arrests have been made. Police have doubled the reward to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest.


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