2007-09-21 / Front Page

Precinct CO Responds To Allegations of Excessive Force

By Miriam Rosenberg

Captain Brian McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, responds to an inquiry about alleged use of excessive force by his officers. Captain Brian McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, responds to an inquiry about alleged use of excessive force by his officers. Following a rally by the NAACP Youth Council last Saturday, at which charges of harassment and police brutality were made against officers from the 101 Precinct, Captain Brian McMahon, the precinct's Commanding Officer, presented his take on the allegations.

At this month's 101 Precinct Community Council meeting, held on September 19, Captain McMahon addressed community representatives about the issue, after Ed Williams, the president of the Far Rockaway NAACP raised the topic.

While Williams, who said he had another appointment, did not stay to hear McMahon's response, the captain gave a detailed rebuttal.

"When the officers first come out here we talk to them about how to treat people," began McMahon. "A lot of our complaints, and I can't justify all of them - we have about 32 CCRB's for this year - one guy, a wife calls up and says her husband got beaten up, but what the wife doesn't say is her husband had a gun on him. We have a lot of that."

According to McMahon, there were 43 complaints made to the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) regarding officers in the 101, for the period ending August 31, up from 31 the same period last year.

McMahon did say that his officers can make mistakes, but it is usually because someone [who is stopped by police] fits the description of a person the officers are looking for.

He admits, however, that sometimes the officers are wrong.

"Do my cops sometimes stop the wrong person? Yeah. Some of these cops have a year, two years on the job. If you look in any profession, your first couple of years you make mistakes, but I want them to explain what the cops do to the [complainant}, or that the cops stopped him because he fit the description of a robber. There's a lot of that."

Such stops, said McMahon, are "part of the way you get crime down."

Many problems occur while looking for suspects in places crimes are known to have occurred.

"If [the police] see someone, they ask if you live there. If he tells them 'yeah, I live here' then you never hear about that. If he tells you go 'f' yourself, he puts his hand in his waist, and then it escalates to what the cop has to do. Then the cop has to put him on the wall. There's a gradual thing we do with violence. We do verbal commands. We do physical commands. We may use mace. Then we [escalate] from there.

The captain spoke about an incident that happened the past weekend at the Ocean Village housing complex, at the western end of the precinct's patrol area.

While details of the event are sketchy and family members have declined to discuss the arrest with The Wave, witnesses have said that the police "beat up" a young man who was doing nothing wrong.

Captain McMahon, however, said that the police were justified in their actions.

"The guy who broke his nose came off a drug sale. [The officers] stopped him and he had crack cocaine on him. He didn't want to go to jail. If you fight and you get beaten up after a fight then that's it. But this year, [there were] 414 narcotics [related] arrests [in the precinct]. If this person had allowed [police to arrest] him, you wouldn't hear about it. If you want to fight the police, things will happen."

McMahon said his officers witnessed the hand-to-hand drug buy. Outside the building "they stopped him [and] they got into an altercation."

McMahon went on to talk about the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board.

"We have the CCRB if you have a problem," continued the Captain. "If an officer treats you different or unfairly, you notify the CCRB. They get the case. They're not associated with the police. They bring the officers down. They bring the complainant down. They try to mediate. If there's discipline, then the cops get disciplined. We have these checks and balances.

"I have over 185 officers here. Do some of them come to work having a bad day? Probably. Just like most of us. Do they target kids the wrong way because they don't know, they don't live [here], they're not used to the kids who are the good kids and who are the bad kids? Probably."

In addition, McMahon pointed out that outside units, who do not know the buildings in the area or live there, occasionally come into the precinct to help with cases.

"They try to do the best job that they can, and that's why we sometimes have problems. But, the majority of our complaints are adjudicated in the appropriate manner."

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