The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has charged an NYPD sergeant with assault and attempted assault during two arrests.
According to the D.A.’s office, Sergeant Phillip Wong, 37, punched a handcuffed 48-year-old man who had been in a Harlem holding cell in a 2019 incident and knelt and “bounced” multiple times on the back of a rear-cuffed 35-year-old man at an Upper West Side subway station in 2020.
“When NYPD officers head into the field each day to face unknown and potentially life-threatening situations, they do one of the most difficult jobs in the world,” said District Attorney Cy Vance in a statement. “But having sworn an oath to protect and serve their communities, those difficult jobs need to be carried out with the utmost integrity and professionalism, especially by officers in leadership. As alleged, this Sergeant grossly violated his training – and the law – during the arrests of these two individuals, whose conduct did not justify these violent responses. Our Office will not accept police violence, and we encourage any victims or witnesses of similar conduct to report it to our Police Accountability Unit at https://www.manhattanda.org/policemisconduct.”
The Sergeant’s Benevolent Association referred requests for comment to Wong’s attorney, Andrew Quinn, who did not yet respond to a request for comment.
In the first incident, prosecutors say that Wong, who has been on the force for 15 years, was assigned to Transit District 3 when a 48-year-old-year-old man and two other people were having their arrests processed at the Transit District 3 precinct on West 145th Street on October 4, 2019. As Wong and two other officers were closing one of the holding cells’ door, the D.A.’s office says, the handcuffed 48-year-old man “kicked the door one time and began spitting at them,” prompting Wong to push past his fellow officers, re-open the cell door, and punch the man in the face. The man was given stitches for a laceration over his eye at a hospital.
Then, on April 29, 2020, the D.A.’s office claims that while Wong was watching his officers at the West 96th Street 1/2/3 station when one officer arrested a 35-year-old man who had allegedly punched another passenger on a train. Officers apprehended him and, according to the D.A.’s office, the man yelled anti-Asian slurs at Wong and kicked him in the leg when they were about the exit, prompting Wong and another officer to bring him to the ground “with his arms rear-cuffed.”
The D.A.’s office says that Wong knelt on the man’s back, with the man taunting him and later saying, “I can’t breathe!” only for the sergeant to respond, “I don’t give a f**k if you can breathe or not!” before punching him in the side of the face and then putting both his knees on the man’s back and bouncing on his back multiple times. The man was taken to a hospital, where staff apparently found he wasn’t physically injured.
Prosecutors say that the 2019 incident was captured on the body cameras of Wong’s fellow officers as well as the precinct surveillance cameras in the hold cell areas, while the 2020 incident was captured on Wong’s own and another officer’s body cameras and the surveillance cameras in the subway station.