- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) - A suburban New York college student says he should not be facing criminal charges for taking a video with his cellphone of two friends being arrested last year.

Thomas Demint said at a press conference Wednesday that Suffolk County police arrested him in May 2014 after he recorded video depicting officers slamming the mother of his two friends to the ground when she allegedly attempted to interfere in one of her sons’ arrest. Earlier in the video, the woman is seen being hit by a Taser.

The 20-year-old Suffolk Community College student has pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and obstruction charges. His attorney, Kenneth Mollins, said he intends to take the case to trial, and is considering a civil lawsuit.

Deputy Police Chief Kevin Fallon said in a statement that “a thorough investigation will be conducted into Mr. Demint’s complaint to find out exactly what happened.” He said bystanders may record video “as long as they do not enter restricted areas, interfere with police operations, violate any laws or compromise the safety of officers.”

Demint said he had been afraid to come forward and speak publicly about the case out of fear of retribution from police, but was unwilling to agree to a plea bargain to settle the charges.

“I am 100 percent innocent,” Demint said, sitting next to his mother, Patricia, and Mollins. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just there to videotape.”

A criminal complaint alleges Demint was “hostile, combative and using profanity toward the arresting officer and intentionally attempted to prevent a lawful arrest by walking away and refused to comply with verbal commands as the officer attempted to put handcuffs on him.”

The eight-minute video does not depict officers arresting Demint, who said he had stopped recording moments before he was allegedly tackled by three officers. He claims the officers attempted to erase the video from his phone, but mistakenly erased another video.

The video depicts a chaotic scene outside a Center Moriches home in which two men are repeatedly using profanity while they are being handcuffed. At one point, the mother of the men appears in the middle of the skirmish and is hit by the Taser. A few minutes later, she is seen running toward officers, who are arresting one of her sons; an officer grabs her and she’s knocked to the ground.

An officer is seen wrapping his arm around the woman and slamming her to the ground. It was not immediately clear if she was arrested. Police were called to the house because the woman reported one of her sons was suicidal, according to Mollins.

Court records indicate the case against one of the men, Anthony Allen, has been sealed. His brother, Michael Allen, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation, last December and was given a conditional discharge.

The names of their attorneys and other details about the arrests were not immediately available. A telephone recording said numbers for them at their Center Moriches home had been disconnected.

Suffolk County police officers do not currently wear body cameras; the department has applied for a grant to begin a study of their use.


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