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Activist who police tried to arrest Friday shares his experience in standoff

CNN logo CNN 8/10/2020 By Taylor Romine, CNN
a couple of people that are standing in the street: Derrick Ingram speaks at Bryant Park in New York on Saturday, August 8, 2020. © Charlie Reyes Derrick Ingram speaks at Bryant Park in New York on Saturday, August 8, 2020.

The activist who New York police attempted to arrest on Friday tells CNN that he is traumatized by the experience and says that police were trying to "terrorize" him.

Derrick "Dwreck" Ingram, a Black Lives Matter protester and activist, is accused of assaulting a New York Police officer in June. During the June protest, Ingram allegedly used a megaphone to yell directly in an officer's ear and that resulted in the officer being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment, according to the NYPD.

On Friday morning, police arrived at his apartment to arrest him for the alleged assault, the NYPD said. But after approximately six hours outside his house, officers left the scene, according to Ingram.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that police were right to end the arrest operation.

"Commissioner Shea made the right decision to call off the operation," he said, referring to New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. "Assaulting an officer is unacceptable and will always lead to consequences, but arrests must be made properly."

Ingram turned himself over to police custody Saturday morning. He was arraigned on charges of third-degree assault and was released from police custody Saturday evening on his own recognizance, the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said.

It is unknown when Ingram learned that charges would be filed against him, when the charges were filed, and why he chose to turn himself in.

When asked about the third-degree assault charges, Ingram declined to comment and referred CNN to his legal representation. Lupe Todd-Medina, a spokesperson for New York County Defender Services, told CNN Sunday that they have nothing else to add beyond a statement released on Saturday, stating they look forward to fighting the charges in court.

Ingram says NYPD falsely claimed they had a warrant for his arrest

In an interview with CNN Sunday, Ingram provided further detail of Friday's attempted arrest and standoff with police.

Ingram, is a co-founder of Warriors in the Garden, a non-violent activist group fighting against police brutality, according to their website. Ingram said that initially one officer came to his door on Friday morning at around 7:15 a.m., saying the NYPD had a warrant for his arrest. When Ingram looked out the peephole in his door, he saw an officer with a rolled-up piece of paper. He requested the officer slide the warrant under the door, and then contacted his lawyers. He says he also messaged his friends in a group chat asking how to handle the situation. Ingram says he then decided to go on Instagram live to record the entire interaction.

Ingram says he asked police again for the warrant. He says the officer told him he didn't have a warrant but that he had probable cause. Ingram says he declined to open the door without a warrant.

While watching through the door's peephole, Ingram said that over the next half hour, 10 more officers appeared in the hallway, including some in riot gear. He told CNN that over the next several hours, he witnessed officers with guns running on the rooftop across from his building, and had two officers, also with guns, placed in apartments across a courtyard.

Ingram said that officers used a battering ram on his door, leaving a huge dent, and he heard dogs scratching and making noises outside his front door. He also said that he saw drones outside of his window and heard helicopters, but didn't see them from his window.

The NYPD told CNN that they were "attempting to make an apprehension for an assault on a police officer," but did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding Ingram's version of events.

Ingram told CNN that at one point, a Black officer climbed up his fire escape and, talking to him through the window, tried to convince him to come out of the apartment, using their shared racial identity as a way to bond, Ingram believed. The officer told Ingram that he would protect him if he came out of the apartment, according to Ingram, and said he wouldn't let him get hurt. During the conversation, the officer told him he needed to go to the bathroom and asked to use his restroom, but Ingram did not allow him to do so.

Ingram spoke with his attorneys on the phone during the standoff

Throughout the incident video, Ingram said he was speaking with his attorneys on the phone about how to proceed.

In a portion of Ingram's Instagram live video provided to CNN, you can hear officers hitting the door and the sounds of dogs whining outside. The officers are heard trying to convince Ingram to open the door, saying they are just there to help and that they have equipment they can use to get into the apartment. At another point in the video, officers say that Ingram's lawyer is outside, but Ingram corrects them and tells them his attorneys have informed him that the person outside is a legal observer.

At approximately 1:30 pm, Ingram said his attorneys told him that legal observers outside the scene informed them that the officers had left.

CNN has reached out to the New York Police Department multiple times about Ingram's allegations about the attempted arrest.

Ingram believes the NYPD 'acted like a terrorist organization'

According to Ingram, he had no idea that he was under investigation, but said he had noticed an officer walking around his apartment building over the last two weeks. He said that he thought the officer was related to a wellness check his family requested several weeks ago because they were concerned about Ingram's safety with him protesting.

Ingram told CNN that he thinks the NYPD "acted like a terrorist organization," and purposefully handled his attempted arrest that way to "cause harm and intimidate" him. He said he is traumatized by the event, and hasn't been able to sleep consistently since Friday.

"There was no policy or procedure. It goes to show that the problem is, [the NYPD doesn't] know how to deescalate. They wanted to play with their new toys and their drugs dogs. They weren't concerned with safely getting me to the precinct," Ingram said.

This incident highlights why it is important to revisit policies and doctrine related to policing, Ingram said, and the power we give officers through qualified immunity. He also is calling for Commissioner Dermot Shea to resign, and have the commissioner position filled by someone who works for the community.

"If I believed them and walked out, they could've said that I ran towards them and they could've killed me. That would've been covered by qualified immunity."

Overall, Ingram emphasized that he was terrified during the entire encounter, and didn't feel safe, especially without the presence of a warrant.


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