Just after midnight on September 16, several NYPD officers interrupted a group of friends celebrating Lamard Joye's 35th birthday near a basketball court in Coney Island. A video of the confrontation appears to show one NYPD officer removing more than $1,000 from Joye's pockets. When Joye objects, the officer sprays him with what witnesses claim was pepper spray. Later, the same officer sprays Joye's sister after she asks for his name and badge number.
"One of the most disturbing things about the video is the other cops standing around watching and doing nothing to stop the wrongdoing," Robert Marinelli, a lawyer representing Joye and his sister, Lateefah Joye, said, according to the New York Daily News.
Marinelli told reporters that Joye removed nearly $1,300 in cash from his bank earlier that week to celebrate his birthday with his wife. Joye earned the money from his job as a construction worker, according to Marinelli.
"I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft," Marinelli said, according to the New York Times. "This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer. An incident like this would never occur in a more affluent section of the city."
As of Wednesday evening, Joye still hasn't had his money returned to him and no reason for its seizure had been provided, according to Marinelli.
The NYPD released a statement about the confrontation, claiming it was "precipitated by a call of a man with a gun" and noting that the department's Internal Affairs unit and the Civilian Complaint Review Board are both investigating. Kenneth P. Thompson, Brooklyn's district attorney, told the New York Times that his office is "aware of the alleged incident and it is being actively and thoroughly investigated."
UPDATE: According to an NYPD statement published by New York Post, only $62 was taken from Joye. The cash, the statement claims, was properly vouchered, and Joye failed to pick it up. An NYPD source also told the Post that the officer in the video, Officer William Montemarino, was cleared of any wrong doing by Internal Affairs.