A New York Police Department sergeant is facing charges after allegedly assaulting two suspects who lashed out at police in the last two years.
Incident 1: The first incident occurred on Oct. 4, 2019, according to court documents. Sgt. Phillip Wong, who was assigned to Transit District 3 in Hamilton Heights at the time, allegedly punched a 48-year-old man in his holding cell.
The man was among two others who were arrested and brought for processing at the 145th Street precinct. As Wong and two other officers escorted them into their cells, the 48-year-old kicked the door and began spitting at the police, NBC New York reported.
In response, Wong allegedly reopened the cell and punched the man in the face. He was taken to the hospital for a cut above his eye, which needed stitches.
Incident 2: The second incident reportedly occurred on April 29, 2020. This time, Wong allegedly knelt on the back of a man who yelled obscenities and anti-Asian slurs at him.
Wong was supervising officers at the West 96th Street and Broadway subway station, according to WABC. At the time, one officer arrested a 35-year-old man after seeing him punch another passenger.
While being arrested, the man allegedly spewed obscenities and anti-Asian slurs at Wong. He also reportedly kicked the sergeant as they reached the emergency exit.
In response, Wong and another officer brought the man to the ground, and Wong knelt on his back.
The man reportedly told Wong, “I can’t breathe.” To this, Wong allegedly replied, “I don't give a f*ck if you can breathe or not.”
Wong was also accused of punching the man and bouncing on his back several times. The man was later brought to a hospital, where he was found to have no injuries.
The charges: Wong surrendered to authorities on Thursday and was charged with third-degree assault and third-degree attempted assault for the incidents. The 37-year-old pleaded not guilty.
In a statement, District Attorney Cy Vance said Wong had "grossly violated" his training and the law. While officers perform "one of the most difficult jobs in the world," they must execute them with "the utmost integrity and professionalism."
Andrew Quinn, Wong’s attorney, did not deny the allegations. However, he offered context to his client’s responses.
“People in this city feel it’s perfectly in their jurisdiction and right to simply call a cop whatever they want, and they are right. First Amendment protects free speech. But at some point somebody has got to start to realize that cops are not getting paid enough to have racial and ethnic slurs hurled into their faces every single time they step out of a police car,” Quinn said, according to CBS New York.
Wong, who has been with the NYPD for 15 years, was suspended without pay for 30 days. He may face up to 60 days in jail if found guilty.
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