NYPD sergeant tells man ‘I don’t give a f–k if you can breathe or not’ during violent arrest: Manhattan DA

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File photo of an NYPD police cruiser (PIX11 News)

MANHATTAN — An NYPD sergeant allegedly knelt on a man’s back during an arrest in a Manhattan subway station and, when the man said he couldn’t breathe, the officer replied he didn’t care, punched the man and bounced on his back, prosecutors said Thursday.

Sgt. Phillip Wong, 37, also allegedly punched a handcuffed man in a holding cell, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. Wong pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and attempted assault charges.

“As alleged, this sergeant grossly violated his training – and the law – during the arrests of these two individuals, whose conduct did not justify these violent responses,” Vance said.

In the holding cell incident, the victim kicked the door and spat at officers on Oct. 4, 2019, according to court documents. Wong allegedly pushed past two officers, opened the holding cell door and punched the 48-year-old victim hard enough that the man needed stitches above his right eye.

The second incident happened on April 29,2020, as Wong supervised officers at the West 96th Street/Broadway subway station, officials said.

A 35-year-old man, who’d just been arrested after he punched a passenger, shouted anti-Asian slurs at Wong and kicked him, prosecutors said. Wong and another officer brought the man to the ground and the sergeant knelt on the man’s back. The man taunted Wong, but then shouted that he couldn’t breathe.

“I don’t give a f–k if you can breathe or not,” Wong allegedly said.

He allegedly punched the man in the side of the face, then repeatedly bounced on the man’s back.

Medical staff at a hospital determined the man hadn’t been injured.

The NYPD said it has suspended Wong without pay. He has been with the department for more than 15 years. He is due back in court on Oct. 18.

“When NYPD officers head into the field each day to face unknown and potentially life-threatening situations, they do one of the most difficult jobs in the world,” Vance said. “But having sworn an oath to protect and serve their communities, those difficult jobs need to be carried out with the utmost integrity and professionalism, especially by officers in leadership.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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