A group of Kings Plaza Mall security guards are on suspension pending an investigation after video surfaced showing them punching and kicking a teen in what they say was an attempt to control a brewing brawl.
Cell phone footage recorded on Sunday at around 4:30pm appears to show a group of security guards pinning a teen to the ground and punching him repeatedly in the face.
ABC News reports:
In the video, at least four mall security guards are seen trying to subdue a 16-year old boy, and not just tackling him.
The boy is punched and kicked and grabbed by the throat, by grown men more than twice his age.
“They threw him on the floor, they choked him, about three of them that actually choked him, and they were kicking him in the head,” said eyewitness Shaunternette Melton.
But the video does not show the entire episode. Police say the teen, identified as Christopher Henry, had just assaulted one of the guards after he had been asked repeatedly to leave the mall.
WPIX11 reports that Henry and another teen were arguing with each other. The security team said that the 39-year-old guard approached Henry and repeatedly asked him to leave. Instead, Henry refused and allegedly jumped on the guard and punched and kicked him. Other guards responded and took Henry into custody.
Mall officials released the following statement:
We find the images captured in the video disturbing. We are cooperating with law enforcement and AlliedBarton Security Services, who employs the security officers involved, to fully investigate the entire incident so that appropriate action can be taken.
AlliedBarton Security Services, the contractor that provides security to the mall, also issued a statement:
AlliedBarton Security Services shares the community’s concern about the video and the events shown,” the statement read. “We are investigating what is shown in the video, as well as the events that occurred before the video began. The security officers involved have been suspended pending investigation. AlliedBarton’s responsibilities at Kings Plaza Mall are to help create and maintain a safe and secure environment. It is imperative that these duties be conducted in a safe and respectful manner and we accept nothing less from our teams.
NBC New York reports that the teen was arrested and charged with assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
He has previous arrests for petit larceny, intent to defraud the transit system, and robbery. Other arrests are sealed due to his age.
Though security insists that the teen has a history of bad behavior in the mall, in addition to the arrests listed above, activists say that the response was excessive.
“Irrespective of what led into this, the actions of those security guards in this community is appalling, and that can’t be tolerated,” said activist Tony Herbert. “We can’t tell these kids to act civil and professional in society when those who have the authority and are trained professionally can’t do the same.”
The mall has been the scene of several violent brawls between large groups of teens, including a December incident that saw as many as 500 teens screaming and fighting in the shopping center. Another “teen riot” occurred in February with approximately 100 teens, which led to arrests. Neighbors say there have been at least two other incidents.
Members of local community groups have put pressure on the NYPD and the mall’s security to bring the situation under control.
Sources: NBC New York, News 12, ABC News, CBS News.