New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he was “troubled” by a video showing two unmasked NYPD officers removing a masked commuter from a subway station this week, and he said he expects discipline for the officers involved.
“I didn’t like what I saw one bit,” de Blasio said in a news conference about the video. “I saw the officers not wearing their masks in the subway. That’s evident, that’s unacceptable. We’ve given this instruction a thousand times, and if you’re going to be in law enforcement, you actually have to participate in following the law.”
The mayor was responding to a video posted on Twitter a day earlier showing two unmasked police officers removing a man from the 8th Street subway station platform. One of the officers pushes the man through an emergency exit door, leaving him on the other side of the turnstiles, before the officers walk away.
Andy Gilbert, who said he is the masked commuter shown in the video, told CNN he’d exited the train on his way to work when he saw the two officers standing on the platform.
Gilbert said he asked the officers why they weren’t masked but they ignored him. When he repeated his question, Gilbert said, the male officer told him, “I can’t hear you through your mask.”
“I kept asking them to follow the law and put a mask on, and the officer declared that I was being ‘disruptive’ and grabbed me and shoved me (about) 60 feet over to the emergency exit and slammed me through it,” Gilbert said. “He yelled at me, ‘If you’re not going to ride the train you can leave!’”
Once on the other side of the barrier, Gilbert said, he asked the officers to identify themselves by name or badge number but they ignored him, resuming their previous posts.
“I didn’t attempt to go back into the station because I was headed to work and my office is at that station,” he said.
The video begins with the officers pushing the man toward the exit door, and it is not clear what preceded it.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subway system, requires masks be worn on trains and in indoor stations. Those who refuse to wear a mask could get a $50 fine.
“If you’re in the subway, we’re telling everyone in the subway you’ve got to wear a mask – that includes police officers. Period,” de Blasio said Wednesday.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the officers were patrol officers, not transit officers, and he called their behavior “absolutely inexcusable.”
“There’s discipline imposed, and we expect that discipline to be meted out. There’s no excuse for what I saw in that video – we’re better than that,” Shea said at a news conference. Asked what the discipline would be, he said the NYPD would “handle that as it goes.”
“Nobody’s getting fired over this incident, nobody’s getting suspended over this incident – but at the same time, I’m not in any way, shape or form attempting to downplay that,” he continued. “I think we’re better than that, I think the public deserves better than that, and, frankly, I know the men and women every day are better than that. But that’s inexcusable.”
The head of the MTA said Wednesday he was “upset” by what he saw in the video.
“We’re trying to bring riders back to the system,” acting CEO Janno Lieber said in a news conference. “I don’t want to see them being pushed out of the system by people who are not complying with the rules that the federal government sets. Come on, enough.”