"They were having a snowball fight...and now the cop has a gun on them."
Those words were spoken by a young woman as she caught the recent incident on video in New Rochelle, New York. In the video, a New Rochelle police officer is shown holding several Black teenagers at gunpoint after responding to a 911 call about a disturbance.
“Don’t f---ing move, guys,” Sgt. Joseph Salerno instructed the teens. While keeping his weapon aimed at one teen, the cop continued on to frisk another teen who was on his knees with his hands up.
The woman claimed that the teens were having a snowball fight, but New Rochelle deputy police commissioner Anthony Murphy reportedly denied that claim and referred to the video as "clever mischief."
According to Raw Story, police say the officer was responding to a 911 call about a teen pointing a gun at another person.
“The video looks terrible, but it’s completely out of context,” the source told the New York Daily News. “It’s a completely different incident than it appears from that snippet. There’s clearly a lot of misunderstanding. The record of the 911 call will by itself illustrate what was going on.”
New Rochelle city manager Chuck Strome also spoke with the media, saying the cops had "acted appropriately" and denying any snowball fight or a need for an investigation. He claimed that the teens in the video were at the housing complex where the complaint was made and had matched the description the 911 caller provided.
“The snowball fight is pretty much myth,” Strome told The Guardian. “One man reached for his waist, so the officer drew his gun.” The man allegedly ran from the scene and was pursued by another officer, while Sgt. Salerno searched the teens and ordered them to stand up after finding nothing.
“Perhaps the officer’s language is a bit harsh and we will take a look at that,” Strome said. “But it was a legitimate 911 call and it was a legitimate response by our police.”
The department is reportedly reviewing the incident.
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