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Cop Who Appeared to Put Knee on Man’s Neck Will Not be Prosecuted: Queens DA

(Image via the Legal Aid Society law firm)

April 5, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A Queens cop accused of kneeling on a man’s neck during an arrest in Jamaica earlier this year will not be prosecuted, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Friday.

The DA’s office had been investigating Officer Thomas Montario’s actions during a Jan 2. arrest of Long Island resident Sircarlyle Arnold – after cell phone video emerged showing what appeared to be the officer’s knee on Arnold’s neck.

At the time, cops were arresting Arnold in front of 113-08 Sutphin Blvd. for allegedly riding an all-terrain vehicle. He had been taking part in a vigil for a friend who died, according to his attorney, Olayemi Olurin.

Olurin, who is public defender with the Legal Aid Society, posted footage of Arnold’s arrest on Twitter in January, and wrote, “This is eerily similar to what was done to George Floyd in May 2020.

On Friday, Katz said the DA’s Public Corruption Bureau had concluded there was “insufficient evidence of an unlawful method of restraint” during the arrest.

“While I fully support the spirit of legislation that prioritizes police accountability and thereby promotes community engagement, the elements of AC 10-181 are not satisfied in this case,” she said.

City lawmakers made chokeholds and other restraints a misdemeanor under Administrative Code 10-181 last summer, after the death of George Floyd.

In the statement, Katz said that the law required a finding that either the officer had “restricted the flow of air or blood by either compressing Mr. Arnold’s windpipe or the carotid arteries on each side of his neck” or that “air or blood flow were restricted by sitting, kneeling or standing on the neck in a manner that compresses the diaphragm.”

She said the investigation had included “consultation with two medical experts and an NYPD expert in Physical Training and Tactics, interviews with multiple officers and Sircarlyle Arnold, and extensive review of NYPD Body Worn Camera footage.”

In the 2-minute-24 second clip released by the DA’s office, witnesses can be heard repeatedly yelling, “Look at his knee!” and “Take his knee off!”

Arnold’s lawyer told The Queens Daily Eagle that the DA’s office has agreed to drop the charges against him stemming from riding riding the all-terrain vehicle. He faced a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge and traffic offenses.

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