Bronx Cops Brutalized Teen They Mistook for Looter: Family

By Kevin Deutsch and Sasha Gonzales
kdeutsch@bronxjusticenews.com , sgonzales@bronxjusticenews.com

Bronx cops brutalized a 16-year-old boy they apparently mistook for a looter, Tasing him multiple times in his face and body in what his family says was an illegal act of police violence.

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating Officer Kevin Hickey’s beating of Jahmel Leach, who suffered broken bones in his face and damage to his jaw and teeth, which he is in danger of losing, Leach’s family and their attorney Sandy Rubenstein said.

The incident happened June 1 as civil unrest rocked the South Bronx, including looting and arson along Fordham Road in Mott Haven.

A majority of local demonstrations held in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police have been peaceful, both in the Bronx and citywide.

Leach was walking home when his family said police mistook him for a looter who had started a fire in the street.

They set upon him with a Taser, using the device to electrify him on his face multiple times, his family said.

Leach was arrested but not charged with any crime. The teenager denies any wrongdoing.

Surveillance video leaked to the press anonymously by the NYPD appears to show a person starting a trash fire in the street before police set upon him.

Leach said he was standing beside the alleged arsonist when police wrongfully seized him, mistaking him for the culprit.

The leaked video shows three uniformed NYPD cops jumping out of an unmarked car, repeatedly Tasing Leach and beating him with batons.

The teen’s family says cops later released him into their custody only partially clothed, dressed in a hospital gown from St. Barnabas, with his face bloodied and swollen.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been criticized for supporting the NYPD’s use of force against protestors, said Thursday the IAB probe should be carried out with “speed and transparency.”

“I want to make sure we get the truth, and I want to make sure we follow through based on what the facts tell us,” the mayor said.

About Sasha Gonzales 235 Articles
Sasha Gonzales is a Staff Writer for Bronx Justice News covering breaking news and crime. A Bronx native, Sasha is an avid photographer, museum-goer, and reader. She lives in Kingsbridge.