A video showing a New Rochelle police officer drawing his gun on a group of teens as they engaged in a snowball fight has made waves through social media over the weekend, but according to the police department, the short video doesn’t clearly depict the whole picture.
“The video looks terrible, but it’s completely out of context,” an unnamed 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.”
The video clip was recorded around 4 p.m. Friday in New Rochelle after a winter storm dumped a blanket of thick snow on New York. As the incident is being recorded, a woman can be heard stating, “They were having a snowball fight. This group of guys was having a snowball fight and now a cop has a gun on them.”
Multiple squad cars responded to the area where the teens were playing, and one officer can be seen with his gun drawn, as he approaches the youths. The officer then frisked the teens, all the while holding them at gunpoint. A short time later, they were released.
No shots were fired during the incident and no injuries of any kind were sustained. However, the video, which was first turned over to Talk of the Sound, has received a great deal of backlash, presumably with several recent high-profile cases of suspected police brutality and misuse of authority on the minds of the public.
While requests for comment from the New Rochelle Police Department originally went without response, by the end of the weekend the department sought to clarify what exactly had happened when the video was taken.
According to the New Rochelle Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Murphy, who called the video “clever mischief,” the police approaching the youths had nothing to do with a snowball fight, but rather a 911 call about a young man with a gun, and it was because of that the officers approached in the manner they did.
“We dispatched several cars to the area. Police officers got out of their cars and one of the individuals bent down, adjusted something in his waistband and ran,” Murphy said.
One of the responding officers chased after the suspect, while a second officer approached the other teens and said, “Don’t f—–g move, guys.” It was at that point when the video started.
Murphy said the group cooperated fully with authorities and were released as soon as it was determined that they were not a threat.
The suspect, who fled to a nearby apartment building and into an unknown unit, was not found.
Murphy agreed that the 911 recording would paint a clear picture of the entire incident. However, he also said since the caller could likely be identified by local residents through the call, the recording would not be released.
“We depend on the public to give us information,” Murphy said. “If you violate that (trust), then what do you tell people? We know what happened, I know what happened and that’s it.”