A 15-year-old boy was beaten by Nassau County police, according to the teenager’s family and local religious leaders, who charge the boy was falsely arrested and held for three hours without his parents being notified.
Nassau County police denied the allegations, and said the boy was arrested in connection with an assault of a man. They said he was not harmed by police.
The arrest took place on Tuesday around noon in Roosevelt near the Rev. Arthur Mackey Sr. Park, police said. His family and local pastors said his head was slammed against a police car and on the ground, and he ended up in Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside for hours that night with cuts to the head, a damaged ankle and other injuries.
“We are here today to stand against this brutal act of police brutality,” the Rev. Arthur Mackey Jr. said at a news conference and protest at the park, which was named after his father. “We’re sick of the police brutality and we’re sick of the racism in Roosevelt.”
The boy, along with two other juveniles, was arrested and charged with assault in the third degree on a 32-year-old Hispanic man on Grant Street, said Lt. Det. Richard LeBrun, a spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department. One of the other juveniles was the boy's 14-year-old brother, the parents said.
The victim was struck “with closed fists repeatedly about the face and body causing substantial pain,” Le Brun said.
The 15-year-old also was charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest.
“At no time was excessive force used and a physical questionnaire was completed in the Precinct indicating there were no injuries and the subject was in good health,” LeBrun said. “This document was verified and signed by both the juvenile subject and his mother at the time he was released from police custody".
But the boy’s family and supporters said they believe police arrested the wrong people, and that the 15-year-old was a church-going Boy Scout who does extensive community service and excels in school.
“They’re great boys. I see them every Sunday,” said Pastor Phillip McDowell of the South Hempstead Baptist Church, where the 15-year-old and his family are members.
The boy’s father, David Tillery, said any papers his wife signed were under emotional duress, because she had no idea where her son was for hours. She finally located him in the First Precinct, he said, by using GPS tracking on his phone. LeBrun did not comment on that issue.
“For three hours she didn’t know where the heck her children were,” said Carolyn Morant, a leader of Boy Scout Troop 300 in Hempstead to which the teenager and his brothers belong. “These are good boys and I think this is a…terrible traumatizing experience.”
E. Reginald Pope of the National Action Network advocacy group called the alleged assault by police part of a troubling pattern in Nassau County. “It’s not just in Roosevelt,” he said. “It’s systemic though communities of color.” Pope and about a dozen family, friends and religous leaders attended the protest at the park.
Tillery, who works for the Town of Hempstead as a supervisor in the general services department and part-time as a school safety officer in Uniondale public schools, said, “I’m shocked. As a homeowner, as a taxpayer, I would have expected much better from my police force.”
“My kids aren’t predators,” he said. “They are Boy Scouts.”