Early in the morning on Sunday, June 3, three openly gay men, Josh Williams, Ben Collins, and Antonio Maenza, were walking past the 79th Precinct when an NYPD officer reportedly accused one of the men of public urination. The officer standing in the precinct parking lot asked if one of the men had just urinated on the building. Josh Williams, 26-years-old, allegedly responded that he had not.
The men claim the police officer then attacked them and threw Williams against the car. As Williams described it, “[The officer] rolled his eyes and sort of snapped, twisting an arm behind my back and slamming me against a car.” Other police allegedly arrived on the scene, one using pepper spray against Williams after he was handcuffed. Collins recalled that the officer called them, “fucking faggots.”
The AVP reports that Williams’ injuries were treated at a nearby hospital where he was restrained with both wrist and ankle cuffs. The Village Voice notes that Williams, who is a waiter from Williamsburg, suffered a laceration on his face which required stitches, a black eye, bruised ribs, and scrape on his torso. The other two men were arrested by the other remaining officers and eventually charged with “obstructing government administration.” One of the men, 24-year-old Tony Maenza, recorded the incident on his iPhone. In the video footage you can hear the exchange of expletives from both parties.
Collins told the Village Voice, “I believe they arrested us because when the last officer who called us faggots, Tony told him that we had the incident on video, and I’m sure he relayed that information inside and they then decided to follow us outside and arrest us.” He added that back at the precinct, in the holding cell, it felt as if they were “an exhibit at the zoo” as none of the officers listened to them or addressed their safety concerns. “It felt demeaning and dehumanizing to be treated in this way.” The Voice reports that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau has started investigating the incident after someone associated with the precinct filed a complaint.
3. Footage of the incident has been released by the AVP (video contains strong language):