On January 19th, ChunWong was returning to his Upper West Side apartment when he reportedly crossed the street against the light.
Though Wong claims the light was green when he crossed, an unidentified officer stopped him and demanded to see his identification. Wong was able to understand the officer’s demand, even though he only speaks Cantonese and Spanish.
When the officer began leaving with his card, Wong says he followed him. “I was very puzzled, and I was very scared,” he said in an interview translated by a family lawyer. “I had no idea why I had been stopped. I used Cantonese and said give me back my ID.”
As Wong began demanding his card back, the officer took out handcuffs and requested backup from his radio. “I got more scared,” Wong said.
Other reports claimed that Wong walked away after the officer stopped him. After the officer tried bringing him back, Wong then shoved him, prompting their response.
Officers soon came over and grabbed Wong before pushing him against a wall and down to the ground. Wong claims he struck his head on the floor and lost consciousness.
After he came to, he reportedly had blood coming down his face while handcuffed to a hospital bed in an emergency room. Later at the 24th Precinct, Wong says officials didn’t offer him any food or water. A cop who was trying to take his fingerprints for processing had difficulty doing so, which Wong said made the experience more painful.
Watch a news report about the arrest here:
The 84-year-old Wong emigrated to Cuba at 19 to do farm work. He eventually came to New York City in 1966, working in restaurants until he managed to open his own. He says he has never been in trouble with the law.
“I always respected the police,” he said. “The officer and detectives from the precinct used to come in to my restaurant all the time.”
The incident comes shortly after returning NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to combat traffic deaths in the city.
Still, Bratton said Friday that the officers did an “excellent job” with the case and praised them for “taking action, addressing jaywalking.” He also called the incident an “unfortunate circumstance” and denied the officers used excessive force.
“We can have police efforts focused on pedestrian safety without violating the civil rights of our citizens,” said famed celebrity lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing Wong. Rubenstein plans on filing a notice of claim for the lawsuit Monday.