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NYPD claims Ambassador handcuffed, detained after he refused to identify himself

NYPD claims Ambassador handcuffed, detained after he refused to identify himself


A spokesperson of the New York Police Department (NYPD) told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday that Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves was “detained in handcuffs”, after he ignored a police officer’s “repeated requests to stop and identify himself.”{{more}}

Detective Cheryl Crispin, of the NYPD Office of the Deputy Commissioner (Public Information), said, in a brief email, that as soon as the Ambassador produced identification, he was released.

Gonsalves, however, in a statement released last week said that it was only after he had been approached from behind, held, and spun around by a police officer in the lobby of the building which houses the Permanent Mission of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, that the police officer demanded that he be shown identification.

Gonsalves said that after exiting the official vehicle of SVG on March 28, in full view of the NYPD officer in the guard post, he “stepped between the metal barricades” positioned in front of the office building. After he had walked past the guard post, he said an NYPD officer emerged from the structure and shouted angrily at him:

“Hey You! You! What the hell do you think the Goddamn barricades are there for?”

Gonsalves said he did not respond to the police officer and continued into the lobby of the office building as he was shocked, both because of the officer’s hostile tone, and the fact that, in over four years of entering the building in that manner, he had never been previously been subject to any comment whatsoever.

He said it was when he was proceeding to the elevators that the police officer approached him from behind and placed his hand on his neck and shoulder, spun him around, again shouted at him and requested identification.

“As soon as I asked the NYPD officer why I was being asked to produce identification, and whether I was under arrest, he said, “You are now!”

The Ambassador said the officer, whose surname is Parker, then produced his handcuffs and demanded that he place his hands behind his back.

“Aware of my rights under the relevant sections of the Vienna Convention, and aware of the fact that I had committed no criminal offence, I informed Officer Parker that I would not place my hands behind my back. Officer Parker proceeded to place his handcuffs on my left wrist. I clasped my hands in front of me and stood perfectly still and rigid, as if at attention,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said the policeman squeezed the handcuff tightly on his left wrist, in an unsuccessful attempt to yank his hands behind his back. He said Parker called for backup and “one or two NYPD officers arrived in the lobby and began to manhandle (him) in an effort to handcuff (him).”

“I remained uncooperative, but peaceful. At some point I was struck or somehow bruised behind my right ear. There are minor abrasions in this area,” the Ambassador said.

He said collectively, the officers managed to force his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.

Gonsalves said he remained handcuffed for twenty minutes and was only released when senior NYPD officers and personnel from the US State department arrived in the lobby.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that since the incident, which occurred on Wednesday, March, 28, a number of changes have been made outside and inside the building that houses the mission of SVG to the United Nations.

Stating that these changes may be probably coincidental, Gonsalves disclosed that since the incident, the police officer involved has not been posted outside the building.

“Other police officers have been present. Indeed I have been advised that the persons who are now outside the building, the police officers, are all non-Caucasian.

“I don’t know what is the significance of this,” Gonsalves said at a media conference held on Tuesday at Cabinet Room.

Gonsalves also said that since the incident, the NYPD have erected a formal barrier where previously metal railings simply leaned against the side walk.

According to the Prime Minister, this is the first time in four and a half years, that the railings have been joined and tied together.

“Before they just simply existed with space, so you can just walk through the space which is what Ambassador Gonsalves did for four and a half years plus, now they have joined them together.

“Persons can still walk around the barrier but it’s longer to walk around,” he added.

Reuters reported that the police ramped up security this month, at the building which also houses Israel’s diplomatic headquarters in New York after a deadly attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. The police did the same for synagogues and other Jewish institutions across the city.