New York, NY – Prosecutors charged a veteran New York Police Department (NYPD) sergeant with assault on July 22 for having allegedly roughed up two separate suspects in custody after one hurled racist slurs and the other spat at him.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement on July 22 that 37-year-old NYPD Sergeant Phillip Wong “grossly violated his training — and the law — during the arrests of these two individuals, whose conduct did not justify these violent responses,” NBC News reported.
The first incident occurred in October of 2019 when Sgt. Wong was escorting a prisoner to a holding cell in Harlem.
Prosecutors said the 48-year-old suspect allegedly kicked a cell door and then started spitting at the officers escorting him, NBC News reported.
Charging documents said that Sgt. Wong punched the prisoner in the face after he was spit at, resulting in a trip to the hospital for stitches on a laceration above the suspect’s eye.
Prosecutors said the second incident occurred at an Upper West Side subway station in April of 2020, NBC News reported.
On that occasion, Sgt. Wong was supervising as two officers arrested a 35-year-old man who had punched another passenger on the train.
As the man was being taken out of the 96th Street subway station, he kicked Sgt. Wong and yelled anti-Asian slurs at him, NBC News reported.
Prosecutors said Sgt. Wong responded by taking the suspect to the ground with the assistance of another officer and then kneeling on the man’s back.
The district attorney said that “the man continued to taunt Wong, and then shouted, ‘I can’t breathe,’” NBC News reported.
“Wong responded, ‘I don’t give a f-k if you can breathe or not,’ and punched the man in the side of the face,” Vance said.
He said officers transported the man to the hospital after the kerfuffle and medical staff determined the suspect had not sustained any injuries as a result of the encounter, NBC News reported.
Defense attorney Andrew Quinn said that in neither case did Sgt. Wong’s actions constitute criminal activity or warrant charges.
“When they see the video [of the incidents], they’ll be as surprised as we are that this case went to criminal court,” Quinn said, “I thought that this case should have been handled administratively within the NYPD.”
He said officers were facing particularly difficult working condition under the current anti-police environment, NBC News reported.
“This is much more indicative of… the lack of respect for police officers citywide,” Quinn said.
“People say vile terrible things to police officers all the time and this is on a daily basis. I mean a cop can’t step out of a car anymore in this city without somebody shouting either an ethnic or racial slur… at the officer,” the defense attorney added.
Sgt. Wong was arrested and charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault and third-degree misdemeanor attempted assault, NBC News reported.
Sgt. Wong was released the same day he was arrested on his own recognizance.
There have been multiple examples of attacks on Asian officers in New York City in recent months.
One man’s profanity-laced racist tirade went viral after he went off of an officer on July 5.
It occurred as police were trying to clear protesters from Washington Square Park, the New York Post reported.
An officer in riot gear was trying to move people away from a police van and onto a sidewalk near the scene of the mayhem when a man suddenly twisted off on him, cell phone footage showed.
“You ain’t even from this country!” the irate man, who is black, yelled at the Asian officer. “You piece of s—t! You f—king ch-nk! Get the f—k out of here.”
The unidentified suspect continued to call the officer a “ch-nk” dozens of times as another officer stepped in and tried to move the man along, the video showed.
“I’m on the sidewalk,” the suspect retorted, honing in on the Asian officer yet again. “Get the f—k out of here you ch-nk! You f—king ch-nk!”
The group of officers attempted to walk away from the confrontation, but the suspect continued to harass them as he walked parallel to them on the sidewalk.
That’s when a bystander on a bicycle jumped in and accosted the man for the racist tirade.
“Why you calling people ch–k, man?” the bystander asked. “Stop calling people ch–ks, man, that’s f–ked up. You racist as s–t. You’re a racist f–k!”
The suspect then turned his attention to the biker, ordering him repeatedly to “suck my d—k,” the video showed.
“Black people can’t be racist, you piece of s—t!” the belligerent suspect added.
He then resumed berating the NYPD officer.
“You f—king ch-nk. I said it! What you wanna do?” he taunted. “Watch my mouth for what, you ch-nk? F—king pig!”
The suspect declared he works for “the state” as officers left him behind a barrier and walked away.
His vulgar tirade continued as the officers left the area.