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article imageVideo: NYPD cops slam pregnant woman to the ground

By Brett Wilkins     Sep 24, 2014 in Crime
New York - The New York Police Department's internal affairs division is investigating officers who were caught on video slamming a visibly pregnant woman belly-first to the ground.
The shocking video shows Sandra Amezquita, who is six months pregnant, being slammed to the ground by officers after allegedly interfering with her son's arrest early Saturday in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
CBS New York reports the incident occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday on Fifth Avenue near 40th Street outside El Tesoro Restaurant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
According to Dennis Flores, a member of the local police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park, Amezquita was attempting to stop police from harassing her 17-year-old son, Jhohan Lemos, over a 2013 robbery arrest.
The New York Post reports officers from the NYPD 72nd precinct were in the process of arresting Lemos for allegedly possessing a knife when several of his relatives, including Amezquita, who had gathered at El Tesoro intervened.
The video clearly shows an officer grabbing Amezquita's arms from behind as she tries to walk away from him. The officer then slammed the pregnant woman to the ground face-first before he and another officer straddled her, pushing her swollen belly into the ground as they handcuffed her.
"Oh my God, she's pregnant," someone exclaims in the video.
“The first thing I thought was they killed my baby and they’re going to kill my wife,” 50-year-old Roland Lemos told the New York Daily News.
A family friend who stepped into the fray was also thrown to the ground.
Flores told CBS New York he believes the NYPD officers set up Lemos, slipping a razor blade into his pocket.
“According to this young man, the cops, when they put the razor blade in his pocket, they told him, ‘We’re going to make sure this time, it sticks,’” said Flores. “So the mom saw this, started yelling out, and the cops grabbed her and slammed her against the floor like we see in the video. And they put a Taser to her stomach.”
Photos and video taken after the incident show Amezquita with a burn mark on her belly and Lemos with cuts and scrapes on his face. Sanford Rubenstein, Amezquita's lawyer, said it was unclear if the officers had used a stun gun on her.
“Her belly is now with black-and-blue bruises,” Flores told WABC.
“She’s very hurt, she’s having a lot of pains, she’s finding blood in her urine,” Flores told WCBS 880. “The baby is moving, but unfortunately they won’t know the extent of the injuries until the baby is born.”
NYPD said Lemos was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and harassment. Amezquita was cited for disorderly conduct. Two other men were charged with assault, resisting arrest, obstructing government administration and harassment.
While the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is probing the incident, no officers have been placed on administrative leave as of Wednesday afternoon.
Reaction in Sunset Park and online has been intense, with support expressed for both Amezquita and the officers who attacked her.
"What right does the officer have to throw a pregnant woman to the ground?" asked Brooklyn resident Janet Rosario on El Grito de Sunset Park's Facebook page. "He is putting a child's life in danger... If you see someone from your family be arrested, would you not try to do something?"
"Wait," replied Hicksville, New York resident Tom Thompson on the same Facebook page, "she puts her face into a place it doesn't belong and you think she's the victim? She should go to jail for putting a child in danger. They should also take the child away."
The incident occurred less than a week after another officer from the 72nd precinct was suspended after being caught on video brutalizing a fruit vendor who was lying on the ground after being arrested while packing up his wares following the Fifth Avenue Street Festival in Sunset Park.
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