SPD release bodycam footage of use of force arrest outside Nick’s Tomato Pie in Armory Square
In a press conference Monday, the Syracuse Police Department discussed an arrest that occurred early Saturday morning outside Nick’s Tomato Pie in Armory Square.
MORE: Syracuse Police holding news conference on use of force in incident in Armory Square
Syracuse Police Department Chief Joe Cecile stated that the department was hosting the press conference in the name of transparency, stating “Transparency is our friend.”
Chief Cecile mentioned they are sharing body cam footage of the use-of-force arrest in light of the release of body cam footage from Memphis police officers in the arrest of Tyre Nichols.
At around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, Syracuse police officers stationed in Armory Square noticed a disturbance occurring outside Nick’s Tomato Pie and approached the store.
A female suspect was accused of stealing the pizza place’s tip jar after being hostile with employees.
The Syracuse Police Department showed body cam footage from several officers on scene throughout the incident, but not in full. Police chose to show certain clips as Syracuse Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Rusin took the audience through the footage.
The officers spoke with an employee who identified the suspect.
Officers then located the suspect and took her aside to speak with her.
The suspect, later named as Uniyah Chatman, admitted to taking the tip jar from Nick’s Tomato Pie, but told officers she returned it shortly after with all the money in it. She then continually says she is frustrated after waiting in line for over 30 minutes and then, according to her, is denied her piece of pizza by employees after paying for it and putting $5 in their tip jar.
Chatman starts to leave the sidewalk, at which point officers tell her she is not free to leave yet. Officers then stay with Chatman and a few of her friends on the sidewalk outside the pizza shop.
Her friends are seen on video trying to calm her down.
Chatman then gets in the face of an officer and police say she spits at him, at which point the officer grabs her from the back of her head and attempts to turn her away from him. More officers get involved, there is a struggle, and police forcibly pin Chatman to a nearby window, hitting her head on the metal frame outside Nick’s. This seems to be where she received a head gash and bloody nose. She is then put in handcuffs by officers on the ground.
Once they get Chatman back on her feet, officers start to walk her toward the patrol car. The video shows her kicking in a rear window of a car parked on the side of the street.
Deputy Chief Rusin stated while attempting to place Chatman in the backseat of the patrol car, she continued spitting at officers.
In the video, a member of the crowd is heard shouting “Why is he choking her?” and soon after another bystander exclaims, “They choking the s*** out of her.”
Deputy Chief Rusin said the department will investigate these claims and asks anyone with bystander footage of the incident to come forward.
We're told, at 2:01 a.m., officers called paramedics and crime scene technicians to the scene.
Officers were unable to provide medical attention to Chatman because she was kicking at the door from inside the patrol vehicle. In body cam footage, you can hear loud bangs coming from inside the patrol car.
Officers then say they decided to transport her to the Onondaga County Justice Center, where it wasn’t so crowded with bystanders to administer that aid.
Once there, officers escorted her to an awaiting ambulance. During this process, you see her restrained on a stretcher and speaking extensively with officers and paramedics, saying she returned the tip jar and that she is a law-abiding citizen and will be suing everyone involved. She eventually spits on and kicks at those around her.
Deputy Chief Rufin then said AMR staff made the decision to administer her a sedative in order to treat her injuries safely. In the footage, it appears her nose is injured and bleeding in addition to the cut on her head.
We're told AMR staff decided to restrain her legs to keep her from kicking, and as they are doing so, Chatman says she doesn’t want to kick or spit at them.
At the conclusion of presenting the video footage, Syracuse Police Department Chief Joe Cecile stated the investigation is ongoing and that the department will not be taking questions.
Chief Cecile then asked anyone with video of the incident to come forward so they can view footage in investigation and told reporters that “down the road” SPD will answer questions and release the entirety of the footage pertaining to the arrest.