Talk about push coming to shove.
A violent shove by a police officer during a march caught on video near Grand Army Plaza last Tuesday left a Bedford-Stuyvesant woman writhing in pain on the pavement and potentially out of work for weeks, claims the victim who said when it happened, she thought the cop had fired his weapon at her.
“There was no stumbling, no losing footing, it was just a straight power shove and next thing I know I was on the ground with a very sharp pain down my side and back,” said Elsa Waithe. “For a moment I thought I had been shot.”
Waithe, who was volunteering with Cop Watch — a group that monitors interactions between police and citizens — said she was standing on the sidewalk near Flatbush Avenue and Sterling Place when she saw police attempting to arrest a man around 7 pm. Waithe said she moved closer to observe the arrest, when she suddenly felt a “tremendous force” on her chest, which pushed her back and down onto a shin-high metal tree guard. The push, she said, was an unambiguous attack.
Waithe was taken to New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, where doctors told her she had badly bruised ribs and possible hairline fractures, and now the painter and part-time comedian says she won’t be able to work for the foreseeable future.
A police spokeswoman said the Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the altercation after a video, which shows a man pushing Waithe and the green-hatted legal observer to the ground, went viral in the hours following the protest. Waithe said did not know how widely the footage of her injury had spread until her worried father called to say he had seen the footage on television.
Waithe has retained a lawyer and declined to comment on any possible litigation against the city, but pointed out there would be a literal price to pay for her injuries.
“There are definitely going to be some bills coming,” she said. “You don’t get to hurt yourself for free in this country.”
She added that she will continue to speak out about the incident — when she is well enough.
“I’m not going to be quiet about this,” she said.