NYC officials investigating stun gun arrest of migrant holding baby caught on tape

Written by on March 13, 2024

Tim Drivas Photography/GETTY Images

(NEW YORK) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams says NYPD officers took “appropriate action” during a violent altercation with a migrant in a city-operated shelter in the borough of Queens that was caught on camera.

In a video obtained by The New York Times, officers can be seen repeatedly striking and using a stun gun on the man, identified by the NYPD as 47-year-old Yanny Cordero, while he’s holding his 1-year-old child.

A police source described the deployment of the stun gun to ABC-owned station WABC-TV as a “dry stun,” which is when police hold the taser to a suspect and pull the trigger without firing probes, eliminating risk to the child.

Police told ABC News the child was not hurt during the incident.

An NYPD spokesperson says that on March 8, police were called to a dispute with an “intoxicated and disorderly male who was threatening staff members.” Police say Cordero refused multiple commands to give the child to someone else.

The New York Times reported Cordero denied being intoxicated, citing that he had work the next day.

A criminal complaint obtained by ABC News alleges that Cordero “tensed and flailed his arms as well as twisted and contorted his body to avoid being handcuffed.”

At one point the video appears to show three officers wrestling Cordero to the ground and pinning his head against a desk once he had been separated from the child. One of the officers can be seen punching him in the face twice as a security officer tries to wave them off and onlookers yell for them to stop hitting Cordero.

“That’s abuse,” the person filming the video can be heard saying, in Spanish. “Where are the human rights?”

It’s unclear what happened before the video.

The video also shows a woman attempting to insert herself between the officers and Cordero in an apparent attempt to stop them from subduing him before an officer pulls her away. Police say 22-year-old Andrea Parrar, whom The New York Times identified as Cordero’s wife, was arrested for interfering with the arrest.

According to a criminal complaint by the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Parrar pushed several officers and flailed her arms to avoid being handcuffed.

The complaint says the couple’s other two children, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, were also present during the incident.

Police told ABC News that the Administration for Children’s Services was notified regarding the children.

Cordero was arrested on multiple charges, including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police confirmed to ABC News.

Parrar was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct.

Mayor Adams’ office told ABC News that the family was reunited on Monday and were given a new placement in Brooklyn after requesting to be moved to a new shelter.

A spokesperson for City Hall says city officials are now investigating the incident, but did not specify which agency is leading the inquiry.

“We are aware of an incident involving a family in our care at an emergency shelter in Jamaica, Queens Friday night. The health and safety of all migrants and longtime New Yorkers in our care – especially young children – is always a top priority, and this matter is currently under investigation,” the spokesperson said.

At a pre-scheduled press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Adams said he had spoken with Police Commissioner Edward Caban about the incident and believed the officers acted appropriately.

“They wanted to get that child out of that gentleman’s hand after warning him several times, asking him to turn over the child. Several times he refused to,” Adams said. “He was violent, he was volatile. They had to take that necessary action and based on our review, those officers took appropriate action.”

The New York Immigration Coalition, an advocacy and policy organization that represents over 200 immigrant rights groups, condemned the arrest.

“We are troubled by the video taken at a migrant shelter in Queens that shows NYPD officers responding to an asylum seeker with violence, while he is holding his 1-year-old baby. Individuals in the City’s care must be actually cared for – and not hurt – by staff or police,” said Murad Awawdeh, president and CEO, New York Immigration Coalition.

“The City must hire shelter staff who are culturally competent, and bilingual or multilingual to ensure that communication breakdowns don’t lead to avoidable misunderstandings that escalate into violence. Everyone deserves due process, and we call on Mayor Adams to stop spreading inflammatory, unproven information about this case. The Queens District Attorney’s office must complete a thorough investigation that looks into the brute force used in this incident,” Awawdeh said.

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