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Is NYPD Running Wild? Patterns of Brutality Raise Questions About Mayor's Control of Police

Behind the NYPD's beating of Jateik Reed and the killing of Ramarley Graham is a long history of police harassment.

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Schuan said the officer’s name who hit her is Ferguson, but he wasn’t the only one who went after her.

After they were arrested and put behind bars, “There was another officer -- a Spanish lady --  came in the cell, like to jump me [with Ferguson],” she said, “The girls that were already in the cell ran out.” When another officer put himself between them, Schuan said, “I guess they knew to back off.”

Schuan Reed's 4-year-old son Jyaire had witnessed the arrest, and police took him into the office when they arrested the others. “I’m sitting there, wondering if they’re being mean to my baby,” Schuan told me, fighting back tears.

While Schuan Reed is familiar with the power of the police, she challenges those who charged her with disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice and child endangerment to prove she and her family were acting belligerently. “You all got cameras in there, right?” she said, “So, show it.”

Between the precinct and central bookings, the Reed family was locked up for 26 hours. The whole time, Schuan was terrified for Jateik.

Later, her fears were realized, when Jateik told her that police beat him in the van, and hit and maced him at the precinct.

She added, “When he was in central booking, he kept asking them to take him to the hospital because his head and everything was hurting, and they wouldn’t take him to the hospital. By law, you are supposed to take him to the hospital, so why didn’t they? What if he had internal bleeding? God forbid if he passed out and dropped dead in there.”

“I know he’s scared,” she said, choking up. “He told me “Ma, they’re going to do something to me.”

Schuan Reed and her family were finally released, but they still couldn’t go home. Schuan and Jashawn claim that the officers kept Jashawn’s phone, and both their sets of apartment keys. “I haven’t been sleeping in my house. I can’t go to my house because I don’t know if they’ve been there,” said Schuan, who has only had time to change one of her locks. “They could come plant something, do anything -- drugs, bugs, anything. If i come in my house to get clothes or something, I feel like somebody’s been in there. It might just be me being paranoid, but I don’t know,” she said. “The whole situation is just real scary.”

She said she feels like she’s always looking over her shoulder. “They might lose their jobs. You don’t know if they’ll come in the house and kill all of us. How can I sleep peacefully not knowing if someone will come in and kill me and my kids? Do you know what it’s like, to feel scared like that?”

Schuan worries about the emotional consequences the beating will have on her son.

“Jateik is going to have to have therapy. He’s going to feel threatened, be emotionally damaged for the rest of his life. I just wish there was something I could do,” she said, “but they have all the authority. They can falsify documents, they can falsify evidence, they can do basically whatever they want, and nobody will ever know.”

There are cameras outside the housing projects where the incident occurred. Footage from them may show what Trevor’s video doesn’t.

Bogus Charges

“The police complaint alleges that the cops observed him with a bag of a substance that they recognized, based on their training and experience, was crack, and that he threw it away, along with two bags that they recognized as marijuana,” Reed’s lawyer, Gideon Orion Oliver, told me at Reed’s bail hearing, adding, “They’re basically alleging that what he had was some crack residue.”

“That sort of superhuman sensory perception,” Oliver noted, “is very typical in drug prosecutions.”

Those who know Jateik Reed call the crack charges a transparent technique to stereotype and criminalize him.

“I heard that the newspaper said cocaine, weed,” Trevor said, “They don’t got the story straight. I’ve known Jateik my whole life, and he don’t even touch crack, so that just sounds crazy,” he said. Trevor claims he saw, “No drugs at all” during the stop.

Garnell said, “Jateik is not the rowdy type to do crack, none of that. That’s not Jateik."

“If you see the police standing there, why would you have something in your hands like that?” Schuan said. “That’s not even logical. And for people to say he’s a drug dealer! A mother knows what her son does. I would know if my son was a drug dealer. I’m not stupid. If he’s a drug dealer, then why does he come to me, asking for $5, $2, every day?”

If Jateik Reed's friends are right, and he never touched crack, it wouldn’t be the first time the NYPD planted drugs.

The recent trial of former NYPD detectives accused of planting drugs on suspects reveals what could be a widespread pattern of corruption. This fall, eight officers were arrested for planting drugs on people, causing Police Commissioner Kelly to order widespread transfers in Brooklyn South and Queens narcotics units. In November, Jason Arbeeny, a 14-year NYPD veteran, was found guilty of eight counts of falsifying records and official misconduct for planting crack on suspects. At his own trial in November, Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD detective, indicated that high pressure to meet quotas makes “flaking,” or placing some previously confiscated drugs on an innocent person, common among all ranks. Anderson testified in court that, “It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators.”

Although Jason Arbeeny admitted to planting crack cocaine on a woman and her boyfriend in 2007, the judge let him off with probation last week.

But planting drugs is not the only way cops keep arrests up. As data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services shows, even after Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an internal memo ordering police to follow the law on pot arrests, 2011 saw more low-level pot arrests -- more than 50,000  -- than any other year in the past decade. Research by Queens sociologist Harry Levine and the Drug Policy Alliance interprets the numbers as proof that the NYPD continued using controversial stop-and-frisks to remove marijuana from pockets or bags and improperly charge people, overwhelmingly black and Latino youths, with marijuana “in public view,” which is a more severe misdemeanor than personal possession and can be cause for arrest and booking.

In the last five years, the NYPD under Mayor Michael Bloomberg made more marijuana arrests than in the 24 years from 1978 through 2001.

Many link the NYPD’s marijuana arrest crusade to Ramarley Graham’s murder. Tony Newman, spokesperson for Drug Policy Alliance, wrote: