Staten Island, NY – A veteran New York police officer was suspended without pay for hitting a 14-year-old girl who punched him in the face while he was trying to break up a fight in the Port Richmond neighborhood on Tuesday.
The incident began at approximately 2:40 p.m. on Jan. 3, when the New York Police Department (NYPD) received a report about a large group of juveniles fighting at a bus stop at Forest Avenue and Willowbrook Road near the Edwin Markham Middle School, the New York Daily News reported.
Kyonna Robinson, 14, said she noticed her 12-year-old sister in a fight with another girl, so she jumped into the fray to defend her sibling, CBS News reported.
“The girl is bigger than my sister, fighting my sister, of course I’m gonna jump in,” Kyonna said. “I didn’t even know what was going on. I just ran over there.”
When she saw an officer placing her sister in handcuffs, Kyonna walked up to the officer and nudged him, according to CBS News.
That’s when the officer pushed her back.
“I don’t care who you are – you touch me, I’m gonna fight back,” the 14 year old told CBS News.
A police source said Kyonna’s sister was being arrested for assault when she attempted to intervene, the New York Daily News reported.
“I asked the cop ‘What are you guys doing?’” Kyonna told the news outlet. “And he pushed me and I hit him two times.”
“I punched him in his face two times and we just started fighting,” she told CBS News on Wednesday afternoon.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner of Public Information Julian Phillips said the teen obstructed the arrest when she reached for the officer’s handcuffs and punched him, the New York Daily News reported.
Cell phone footage showed NYPD Officer Nicholas Scalzo, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, hitting Kyonna multiple times as she swung at him at least twice.
“He was hitting her repeatedly in the head,” 13-year-old Christy Lou told the New York Daily News. “I tried to grab her and pull her under me. He ended up hitting me.”
Commissioner Phillips confirmed Officer Scalzo, who is assigned to the NYPD’s 121st Precinct, “utilized physical force against this female by striking her with his hand several times.”
“The force used by the officer, a 14 year veteran of the Department, is currently under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau,” the NYPD tweeted.
Last evening, the NYPD became aware of an incident that occurred on Staten Island where officers responded to a fight between a group of youths. The actions of those officers is under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau. At this time, one officer has been suspended. pic.twitter.com/hwIuW5p1rj
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 4, 2023
Kyonna was ultimately arrested on an assault charge and taken to the hospital before she and her sister were both released to return home, the New York Daily News reported.
The teen said she is “disappointed in the NYPD” over how the incident played out, according to CBS News.
“I’m a whole child,” she said. “Why are you putting your hands on me? You’re supposed to be breaking up the fight.”
Kyonna said she had a “knot” on her head after the brawl and that she believes it triggered a migraine, the New York Daily News reported.
“I’m just disappointed,” she told the New York Daily News. “That precinct and the NYPD and that man.”
Officer Scalzo has been suspended without pay while the internal investigation is pending, according to multiple news outlets.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he “was not pleased” with the situation he saw in the video, CBS News reported.
New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch released a statement in the wake of the incident reminding everyone that the officers involved “are entitled to due process, not summary judgment based on a few seconds of video,” according to CBS News.
“What is clear at this point is that these police officers were trying to break up a violent altercation when they, themselves, were assaulted,” Lynch said. “What is needed now is a thorough investigation of the entire circumstances, not just what has been posted online.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content:
CW: Police violence
This appears to be a teen being beaten by @NYCMayor’s NYPD around the block from IS 051 Edwin Markham middle school. pic.twitter.com/h092ZJgHyv
— Rafael Shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) January 4, 2023