New York - Graphic Video Shows Cop Beating in Detail
New York - Prosecutors finally released the video today for a 20-baton-blow, police beat-down of a prone suspect.
The 2008 video, in its entirety, is silent and chilling -- showing start to finish the piston-like rapidity of the baton's rise and fall, the writhing suspect, and the final couple of kicks the cop delivers to the prone-and-cuffed suspect, even after stopping to make a phone call.
But in taking the stand in his own defense this morning, accused brutality cop David London provided jurors with the audio for the video -- his own recollection of what he said, and the suspect said, during the bloody encounter.
The "audio" -- as London described it this morning -- was a back-and-forth between a cautious, by-the-books cop and an out-of-control, emotionally disturbed Army vet who would not stop screaming threats and resisting no matter what metal and mace rained down upon him.
The testimony left London a sobbing wreck by lunch break, held up by a group of fellow officers in the courthouse hallway.
"Do you live in the building? Do you have the proper ID?" London, a 45-year-old father of three from the Bronx, told jurors his first words were to Walter Harvin, 30.
Harvin was at the Hostas Houses housing project on W. 93rd St. to visit his mother, Clara, on that July Saturday night in 2008.
"He said 'I told you I live in apartment 22-C!'" London said. "He was very hostile to me."
In the tapes, Harvin, wearing a white do-rag and white T-shirt, then gives the cop a two-handed shove in the chest as he tries to push on toward the elevator.
"I told him he was under arrest," London told jurors. "I tried to calm him down."
"I'm going to kill you," Harvin repeated, rushing toward the lobby elevator bank, London testified.
London recalled reaching first for his mace, then for his baton, "Just in case he causes trouble, sir," he told his lawyer, Stephen Worth.
"He had already just assaulted me."
When London told him to step out of the just-opened elevator, Harvin shouted again, "You can't take me. I'll kill you."
"Step out of the elevator," London told jurors he demanded, pulling the suspect out.
He readied his baton.
"I thought he was going to make a move on me," London told jurors. "Just lunge for me, attack me, sir."
Pulled out of the elevator, Harvin does lunge, or lean his body toward, the cop, the video shows. London sprayed his mace first, one time, "I might have missed," then bashed him on the side of the head with his baton.
"Because he was aggressive and violent, sir," London testified. "I was trying to get him to comply. He said, 'I'm going to kill you."
"Did you believe that meant he was going to comply," the lawyer asked, almost winkingly.
"Objection!" shouted the prosecutor, David Drucker. The judge sustained the objection.
"Were you hitting him because you were angry?" the lawyer asked, trying another question. On the video, as the blows come down, London's face is like a mask, almost expressionless.
"No, sir," London mumbled, his voice barely audible.
"Were you hitting him for any reason besides your training?" the lawyer continued.
London said he was only trying to get the suspect to stop resisting, to "comply" with police orders.
"Compliance, sir," London said,
In the strangest exchange between cop and suspect, more than halfway though the encounter, London remembers Harvin saying, "You can't take me. I was in the Iraq War."
"I said, 'I'm from the Air Force," London, a former reservist, said he responded. "I wanted to calm him down," London said.
But why does he kick Harvin at the end of the video, his lawyer asked.
At that point, Harvin is down and cuffed, in a fetal position on the lobby floor. London has stopped to make a cell phone call -- to talk to a supervisor about backup, he said -- but then comes back and kicks Harvin a few more times.
"He kicked me," London said, pointing to a point in the video where Harvin's legs move toward the cop.
"Nigga, I'm gonna kill you," Harvin said as he kicked, London remembered. "I'm going to kill you."
"Are you trained that even though someone is in handcuffs, they can still be a danger to you?" the lawyer asked. "Yes sir," London answered.
London also said he didn't read very carefully, before signing it, the criminal complaint against Harvin, in which Harvin is described as having punched London and his partner -- something the video does not show.
Prosecutors say the cop framed Harvin for assault in an attempt to cover up the excessive beating.
"We never asked for the assault charges," counters Worth, the defense lawyer. "The DA asked for the assault charges. If it's a coverup, it's a lousy coverup if you're getting the DA to do it."