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Friends of Clinton Hill teen knocked out by cop: Police harass us

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Friends and young family members of the black 17-year-old apparently knocked out by a police officer in Clinton Hill in June say the incident was scary, but it wasn’t surprising.

One 21-year-old cousin of Marcel Hamer, the neighborhood teen whose family says an undercover cop knocked him out for smoking a cigarette, says that police have stopped him without cause for years.

“This has been happening to me on a day-to-day basis since I was 16,” Tevaughn Johnson said. “They say they have probable cause and go through my pockets.”

Johnson’s mother said she has had to pick him up from the police station for small infractions such as forgetting his identification, and that once officers arrested him for disorderly conduct, the same charge police made against Hamer after the apparent knockout punch. Johnson’s mom said that her son and his friends sometimes misbehave, but that the bigger issue is how much more police focus on them than their white peers — and how much less regard police hold them in.

“The police target the minorities,” Dree Johnson said. “They are typical teenagers and they get into some mischief, but the attitude from police is that they just have no respect for minorities.”

Hamer was walking home down Gates Avenue with friends near Waverly Avenue on the afternoon of June 4 when a plainclothes cop jumped out of a van, accused him of smoking marijuana, and shoved him to the ground, he and his family said. Hamer’s left arm was immobilized when it hit a planter during the fall, he told a nurse. Hamer’s pal, Mary Bethea, started filming with a smartphone as the officer stood over Hamer lying in the gutter, handcuffed by his right hand, according to the medical account. In the footage, the cop taunts the teens gathered around asking one, “Do you wanna get f----- up?” moments before delivering the apparent knockout punch. Then, addressing the camera, he says, “Yeah, get it on video.”

Speaking to a reporter on Friday, Bethea said that police are a constant presence in the neighborhood, and that experience has taught her to record any interactions with them, because they view people who look like her as a threat.

“The cops are always around here,” said Mary Bethea, 18. “This is our community, but they do not want us here.”

One middle-schooler walking home from school near where the undercover officer struck Hamer said that he avoids police as much as he can.

“I do not talk to any cops,” the 12-year-old said. “I just stay out of the way.”

Bethea, Johnson, and another friend said they have not spoken to Hamer since the June incident, and that his mother has accompanied him everywhere since. The boy’s family claims he suffered brain damage from the blow and now experiences regular headaches, dizziness, and memory loss.

They have filed a court notice saying they intend to sue the city and the Police Department for $5 million.

District Attorney Ken Thompson said his office is eyeing the incident.

“What we want is what everyone should want, which is respect for the law, whether it’s a civilian or a police officer,” said Thompson. “So if any police officer has crossed the line, we have to hold him accountable.”

Video of the officer apparently knocking Hamer out drew international media attention, prompting articles in England’s Daily Mail, Canada’s National Post, as well as in national media outlets such as Gawker, Mother Jones, The Root, and MSNBC. The video’s release coincided with the publication of two other videos showing alleged police misconduct, one of officers pistol-whipping and punching an unarmed Bedford-Stuyvesant teen who has his hands raised in surrender, and another of an officer pulling cash out of a man’s pocket on a Coney Island basketball court, then pepper-spraying him and his sister, but arresting neither. The man whose money was taken claims he lost $1,300 that he intended to spend on a birthday celebration, but officers insist that the amount was only $62, and that it was properly accounted for, according to reports.

Police have so far refused to release the name of the officers involved in the Hamer incident.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
as far as the 88th precinct goes, this doesn't really make sense: "Johnson’s mom said that her son and his friends sometimes misbehave, but that the bigger issue is how much more police focus on them than their white peers — and how much less regard police hold them in." as there are no large groups of white teenagers roaming Clinton Hill/Fort Greene...except maybe the Brooklyn Tech track team.
Oct. 13, 2014, 10:54 am
jjm from c. hill says:
This is such a shame. Teens are just being teens. Im pretty sure many of the same cops that are shooing them along used to cause mischief after school themselves so leave these kids alone. They have every right to be wherever they wanna be like every other person, whether it be park slope, ft greene, upper east side, etc.
Oct. 13, 2014, 11:13 am
Resident from ft.grn says:
The police should come hang out around areas where some of these other people hang out, act much worse than these young blacks at the three o'clock hour.

I've seen the young black teens going up Gates Avenue, they have some atrocious language, they yell, scream, call each other "——" chase each other, play-fight, speak horribly, and sometimes looking at them, older adults want to tell them to calm down, but are afraid. I hate this happened to this kid. These young blacks are targeted by police due to their behavior.

On the other hand, a group of young teenage of the J or caucasian descent can walk to their train, screaming, cursing, also screaming the word "——" talking about what they want to do to some guy, just as nasty, be just as loud, do drug deals, take in drugs and are ignored or should we say tolerated by NYPD. Is this fair? Of course these young women would not be harassed.

One of the local coffee shops get such despicable conversation, it wouldn't be worth mentioning, except it needs to be heard. I heard a young man and young woman of the caucasian descent talking about killing off undesirable populations and putting their deceased parts into a lake. Is this something a "innocent young teen" should discuss in public.

My take, treat them all the same, no matter the race or leave the young black men alone.
Oct. 13, 2014, 8:33 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Allowing groups of young people to roam where-ever they want at any time is unfortunately problematic in NYC. One of the worst parts of NYC pre 1990s was the constant groups of young people abusing their power in numbers without challenge. The best thing the NYPD has done in the last twenty years is preventing groups of young people, especially those behaving in an uncivil or intimidating fashion, from roaming around unchallenged. My personal experience in the matter is those who break the law, intimate the weak, harass by numbers, and behave uncivil, cruel or ruthless eventually get the community/police reaction they deserve. So many tough guys crying after they get push back. Pathetic. Oh, and reasonable people would agree children should go home after school.
Oct. 13, 2014, 8:55 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
@charles, ok maybe they should go home after school but thats not my choice or yours. If they wanna hang out after school, or if their parents didnt tell them to come straight home after school then nobody has any business to tell them where they should go, not even the police. Like i said earlier, leave these kids alone & let them enjoy their youth.
Oct. 13, 2014, 9:32 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
I bet if the shoe was on the other foot, everybody would be saying the same exact things these kids are saying about the cops harassing them to leave the area once school is over. Stop being a bunch of tightwads & lighten up for real.
Oct. 13, 2014, 9:36 pm
Peter Engel from Downtown Brooklyn says:
I have no problem with the police keeping some semblance of decency and order after school. That's part of their job. But they can get the message across with a few firm but respectful words -- maybe holding up a stick if necessary.

These cops are just roughing up kids for the sake of roughing them. up. It's way over the line, and they seem to get off on it. If cops really find this kind of violence is necessary, they don't know how to control themselves or the citizenry, and therefore have no business being on the job.
Oct. 14, 2014, 10:21 am
E from Fort Greene says:
One thing not mentioned is the lack of alternatives to "roaming around." Focusing on giving kids fun, safe places to be regardless of the tine helps prevent problems.
Oct. 25, 2014, 7:22 pm

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