This story originally appeared on RawStory.com and is republished here by permission.
A brief cell phone video shows a New York City police officer use pepper spray on a man and his sister after they complained the cop had taken more than $1,000 during a stop-and-frisk search.
Lamard Joye was stopped by police Sept. 16 in Coney Island after confronting officers who roughed up a young man nearby, said the man’s attorney.
“Is that necessary?” Joye and some friends asked police, according to the attorney.
One of Joye’s friends begins recording video, posted online by the New York Daily News, that shows an officer standing face-to-face with Joye, who oustretches his arms and says, “You see this?”
The officer then reaches into Joye’s pocket and pulls out a handful of cash, and smacks his face and calls him an “asshole” when Joye asks him to return the money.
The video shows the officer squirt pepper spray at Joye, who retreats as onlookers accuse the cop of stealing his money.
Joye’s sister confronts the officer as bystanders accuse him of robbery, and the cop blasts her with pepper spray when she identified two numbers on his badge.
“I went to get his badge number and name,” Lateefah Joye told the Daily News. “I leaned over to see his badge. He pushed me away. I saw a two and a one, and that’s when he pepper-sprayed me in my mouth and my whole face.”
Robert Marinelli, an attorney who represents Joye and his sister, a former West Virginia University basketball player who plays professionally in Europe, said officers incorrectly assumed the money was illegally obtained.
He said Joye had withdrawn $1,300 from a bank a week before because the day of the incident was his 35th birthday, and the construction worker planned to take his wife out.
Marinelli said he gave the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office pay stubs and bank records to show the money was legally obtained and withdrawn, but the money still has not been returned.
“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally, and therefore he would not report the theft,” Marinelli said. “This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer deserving respect.”
Video from the incident has also been turned over to prosecutors, who have interviewed Joye and his sister, along with other witnesses.
The New York Police Department has also opened an internal affairs investigation, along with a probe by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Police said officers were called to the scene prior to the incident after reports of a man with a gun.
Officials from the police officers union said the “35-second-long video does not provide enough information about a police encounter to come to any conclusion about what transpired.”
Watch video of the incident posted online by the New York Daily News: