In July 2014, officers from the New York Police Department were caught on camera brutalizing a Black Brooklyn mother. The police assaulted Denise Stewart, 50, an asthmatic mother of four. She was dragged naked from her apartment and pressed against the wall by NYPD cops as she screamed, “I can’t breathe.” To make matters worse, police were at the wrong apartment. Stewart was left unconscious and naked on the floor while her neighbors screamed at police, calling them “wicked.” Now, she is facing jail time for assaulting an officer during the encounter.
Police were at Stewart’s apartment because of an unrelated incident in her apartment building. The officers heard noise coming from Stewart’s apartment door and investigated. The officers knocked on the second-floor door and demanded entry. She answered the door in a towel after stepping out of the shower and was dragged naked from her apartment and pressed against the wall by NYPD cops as she screamed, “I can’t breathe.” When her eldest son, Kirkland, and daughter, Diamond, tried to intervene, they were also arrested for interference with the police during their duties.
Stewart was charged with assault and also for beating her daughter, who complained that she was beaten by her mother and a sibling on the head and hand with a belt. Stewart’s trial opened this week and she is now facing jail time. The officers were mostly rookies being trained, according to Stewart’s attorney Amy Rameau, who stated during opening arguments, “All of this happened during the course of a training exercise involving rookies with little or no experience who were out and about looking for hands-on experience. You will see this police culture and how police conduct themselves in communities like East New York and Brownsville versus the Upper East Side … The police officers involved conducted themselves deplorably. This is about the blue wall of silence. None of them will come forward with the truth, blunder and embarrassment to the NYPD.”
Stewart has no criminal record and a child services investigation found no signs of neglect in the home. The video of the attack caught on a neighbor’s cell phone can be viewed here.