Nov 12, 2019 16:32 UTC
  • New York City wrestles with surge of violent police clashes

A surge in violent police clashes has left a trail of bodies across New York City, stoking tensions between officers and critics who say they have been too quick to use deadly force.

Since mid-October, New York Police Department officers have shot five people, killing four of them — a torrent that left department veterans struggling to recall another time there were so many on-duty shootings in the city in such a short span.

On October 23, police killed a man in Harlem after they say he fired a gunshot that hit an officer's bullet-resistant vest. Two days later, police killed a man in Brooklyn after they say he slammed an officer's head with a chair. That officer was placed in a medically induced coma for several days.

Adding to the chasm: bystander video that showed a white police officer punching a black teen during a brawl on a Brooklyn subway platform. Hundreds of people last weekend marched in protest and the family of one teen said it will sue.

Why the sudden uptick in confrontations between police and the public? It depends on who you ask.

In law enforcement circles, there's a growing feeling that people are feeling emboldened to act out against police officers. In a series of attacks over the summer, several officers were soaked with water , others were hit with a milk carton and Chinese food and another had his body camera ripped off.

Police unions say frequent criticism of police from city politicians and reform advocates is stoking anti-police sentiment.

The city's largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, says a lack of support from police leaders has left officers feeling isolated and abandoned, exemplified by the decision in August to fire an officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner.

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