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NYC police sergeant charged with assault after video shows him hitting suspect who used racial slurs


NYPD Sergeant Philip Wong, 37, is arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court for punching a 48-year-old man in a Harlem holding cell in October 2019, and attacking a 35-year-old man during an arrest in an Upper West Side subway station in April 2020

A New York Police Department sergeant was hit with assault charges yesterday for allegedly slugging two handcuffed suspects on two different occasions in 2019 and 2020, one of whom yelled anti-Asian slurs at the officer.

Sgt. Philip Wong, in handcuffs, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault and attempted third-degree assault, both misdemeanors, during a brief court appearance. 

He has been suspended without pay for 30 days as he goes on trial. 

Recently unveiled body camera footage revealed how Wong, 37, slugged a 35-year-old man at a subway station on West 96th Street on April 29, 2020.  

Wong is accused of kneeling on the man’s back and bouncing on it after he and another cop arrested the suspect and handcuffed him on the ground.

The man yelled ‘I can’t breathe,’ according to the indictment.  

‘I don’t give a f**k if you can breathe or not,’ Wong allegedly replied, as he punched the man in the face, the New York Post reports. 

The perp allegedly shouted anti-Asian slurs at Wong and kicked him. 

The man was taken to the hospital, where medical staff determined that he had not sustained any physical injuries.  

The incident is reminiscent of the 2014 Eric Garner case, where Garner said ‘I can’t breathe,’ as an officer placed him in a chokehold that led to his death. Garner’s plea became a national rallying cry. 

It also invokes the actions that led to the police killing of George Floyd last year, whose death reignited the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests for police reform. 

Another body cam video from 2019 shows that when Wong was assigned to Transit District 3, he ‘attacked’ another man in a Harlem holding cell. 

According to court documents, Wong and two other officers were escorting a 48-year-old man to his cell at the precinct on West 145th Street. 

After the officers closed the cell door, the handcuffed man kicked the door and spit on the cops.

Sgt. Philip Wong, in handcuffs, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault and attempted third-degree assault, both misdemeanors, during a brief court appearance

Sgt. Philip Wong, in handcuffs, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault and attempted third-degree assault, both misdemeanors, during a brief court appearance

Wong is accused of pushing the other officers out of the way to reopen the cell and punch the man in the face. 

The suspect was transported to the hospital and treated for a laceration above his right eye, which required stitches, ABC 7 reported. 

‘When NYPD officers head into the field each day to face unknown and potentially life-threatening situations, they do one of the most difficult jobs in the world,’ District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. ‘But having sworn an oath to protect and serve their communities, those difficult jobs need to be carried out with the utmost integrity and professionalism, especially by officers in leadership. 

‘As alleged, this sergeant grossly violated his training and the law during the arrests of these two individuals, whose conduct did not justify these violent responses.’

Prosecutors asked that Wong serve a 60-day jail sentence. 

Wong’s attorney’s did not deny the accusations, but instead attempted to offer context. 

‘People in this city feel it’s perfectly within their jurisdiction and right to simply call a cop anything they want,’ the attorney said. ‘And they’re right. First Amendment protects free speech. But at some point, somebody’s got to start to realize that cops aren’t getting paid enough to have racial and ethnic slurs hurled in their faces every single time they step out of a police car.’ 

The Police Department did not respond to questions about its investigation. 

If convicted of assault, Wong could be fired or forced to retire, according to the department’s disciplinary guidelines. 

He is due back in court on Oct. 18. 

The alleged incident took place at a subway station on West 96th Street. Stock photo of the NYC subway

The alleged incident took place at a subway station on West 96th Street. Stock photo of the NYC subway



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