Flushing arrest sparks controversy

Staff at the Flushing YMCA accuse an officer at the 109th Precinct of using excessive force during an arrest.
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Instructors and supporters of the Flushing YMCA attended a 109th Precinct Community Council meeting earlier this month to complain about an arrest outside the facility on Northern Boulevard.

Donal Cogdell, director of a program called Youthbuild, which helps young men and women get their GED diploma, said an officer at the precinct used undue force when arresting a man participating in the program.

“I’ve been with the Y for five years, but right now we’re at a place where we don’t know what to do,” he said at the meeting. “And we’re concerned.”

Cogdell said his student was outside the facility when he was “severely beaten” by a 109th Precinct officer during an arrest, and Cogdell said this was not the first time the officer had caused injuries to one of his students.

Cogdell said told officers that a complaint had been filed. Because of a possible investigation, the 109th Precinct declined to comment.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board had no record of a complaint as of press time Wednesday, although civilians can also report police officers to the Commission to Combat Police Corruption and NYPD Internal Affairs.

Another woman who works for the YMCA referred to a cellphone video of the Jan. 8 incident posted on on the Internet, where the arrest can be seen. The video was shot by an anonymous bystander. It begins as police have Robert Jackson, 19, on the ground and are trying to get the youth’s hands behind his back. At least two of the officers strike Jackson and within a minute a crowd of other officers run over and the video ends.

According to a criminal complaint from the Queens district attorney, Jackson was arrested outside the Flushing YMCA Jan. 8. He was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct, according to the DA.

An officer saw Jackson allegedly yelling profanities and engaging in violent behavior while police had two other youths stopped for truancy nearby, according to the complaint. The officer asked Jackson for identification, which he refused to give, and the teen walked away, according to the complaint.

The complaint then said Jackson had his hands in his front jacket pockets, disobeying an order to make them visible for police safety and then resisted arrest by flailing his arms and attempting to bite the arresting officer

Jackson has been arrested four other times, according to court records and police, and in one instance was allegedly found to be in possession of a gun and knife.

Jackson’s lawyer, Alain Massena, said Jackson has not been found guilty for the prior arrest, and that the officer’s story about the Jan. 8 incident will be discredited in court.

“It was disgusting. No human being should be treated that way,” he said. “We are going to advocate that justice is served.”

A police source said incidents like this can often be avoided if the defendant simply lets the officers make their arrest.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 5:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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Cowards from Queens says:
Feb. 12, 2013, 8:45 pm

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