Although conflicts between skateboarders and law enforcement are nothing new, a recent video of an Asian student being violently arrested for skateboarding is prompting questions of whether an NYPD officer used a banned technique, as well as a proclamation of legal action from the defendant.
Yibin Mu, a skateboarder descibed on his Facebook as a Shanghai native and student at New York’s Queens College, posted a video to YouTube on Monday evening of his arrest for skateboarding in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle the previous day. The video, which can be seen above, shows Mu being aggressively dragged by an NYPD officer and pinned to the ground (seemingly employing a banned chokehold technique, according to Gothamist and this reporter’s interpretation) before being pepper-sprayed while subdued. Mu asks what he did wrong, while a bystander says, "here we go again."
Mu offered his account of the arrest in the video’s YouTube description:
This occurred at 59th Columbus Circle on 10.25.15 around 4:55pm.
Without warning, the police officer used one hand to grab my forearm and the other hand to grab the back of my neck. He then put me in a chokehold and this is what happened next. I was non-aggressive the entire time. My name is Yibin Mu and I’m tired of abusive cops.
The description went on to provide possible details about the arresting officer:
The officer is named Gill, badge number 19646 who works at the Midtown North Precinct. 18th Precinct. Whether his badge number is real or not I do not know.
Mu, in a statement to Colorlines, said that he plans to pursue legal action in this matter. The NYPD would not provide us with a copy of the police report by press time. In Gothamist, an NYPD spokesperson says that Mu refused to sit down while the officer wrote him a summons for illegal skateboarding and that he fought "when the officer informed him that he was placing him under arrest, and attempted to take him into custody."
Gothamist also reported that no injuries were noted on the report, despite Mu being pepper-sprayed. The student was "charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to comply with a posted sign, and defacing park property," with the New York Daily News reporting that court records indicate his release "on his own recognizance at his arraignment Monday."
Mu contests several claims made in the officer’s report, including the aforementioned one, adding, "He is trying to paint me as a punk skater without regard for laws or authority so he’d [sic] have an easier time in court."
Mu also added that a bystander took the video that he later posted.
Controversy stems from the alleged use of a chokehold by the arresting officer—a technique generally banned by NYPD protocol for nearly two decades but controversially used in the arrest and killing of Eric Garner. Some New York City Councilmembers are seeking to explicitly outlaw officers’ use of chokeholds, which prompted opposition from NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.