Syracuse, N.Y. — A woman arrested early Saturday morning in Armory Square says she was seriously injured by Syracuse police officers.
Uniyah Chatman, 25, filed a Citizens Review Board complaint against Officer Leonard Brown, claiming police brutality. She alleges Brown threw her against a window and body-slammed her.
Chatman said in the complaint she suffered a severe head injury, facial and head cuts, and back and neck injuries. She said she can’t walk or sleep. Photos taken at the hospital show Chatman bloodied and hooked up to a ventilator.
Her lawyer says Chatman plans a lawsuit.
Police said the call started around 1:40 a.m. Saturday when officers noticed a disturbance outside Nick’s Tomato Pie at 109 Walton St. An officer spoke with an employee, who pointed out Chatman passing on the street, police said.
Officers approached Chatman about the store’s tip jar, which employees said she took. Chatman told officers she gave it back.
In the complaint, Chatman said she was celebrating a job offer with friends when she got into an argument with employees. She said she knocked over the jar, grabbed it and began walking out. She said she didn’t intend on keeping it and left it in the store.
In the confrontation with police outside the store, Chatman said Brown was “aggressive and mean.” He made an anti-gay comment, she alleges in the complaint.
“He also kept whispering ‘you want to be a man I’ll show you what it’s like to be a man.’ This was a threat against me because I am gay and I was very scared of him,” she wrote in the complaint.
“He then grabbed me aggressively and smashed me against the [window] face first,” Chatman said. “That’s when my lip got cut. Then he body slammed me head first onto the pavement and after that my recollection is foggy because I went in and out of consciousness.”
Chatman said she felt knees on her back and that she kept yelling that she couldn’t breathe. She said in the complaint she has asthma.
She said she woke up in a car and was kicking because she was scared and again telling an officer she couldn’t breathe. She said that officer began punching her and choking her in the car.
In a news conference Monday, police officials said Chatman spit on one of the officers and was actively resisting them. They showed video of the arrest from several sources.
Chatman was charged with second-degree harassment, petit larceny, fourth-degree criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
Police declined to answer reporters’ questions at the news conference. No officers involved in the arrest have been suspended, a police spokesman said.
Jesse Ryder, the lawyer representing Chatman, said police have selectively excluded portions of the arrest from the public video .
The videos shown to reporters Monday were also shown to Chatman’s family and Ryder, the lawyer said. Ryder said he left the meeting on Monday with Police Chief Joseph Cecile and other police officials angry.
“This is criminal. You know he’s going to kill someone,” Ryder said he told Cecile about Brown.
Ryder has represented plaintiffs in several lawsuits against police agencies in the past, which included a $2.5 million settlement for the beating and false arrest of Alonzo Grant.
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Staff writer Fernando Alba covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, story idea, question or comment? Reach him: Email | Twitter or at 315-690-6950.