NYPD Officer Nicholas Scalzo was suspended without pay on January 4th, for assaulting 14-year-old teenager Kyonna Robinson. According to various reports, the incident, which was captured on video, took place on Tuesday, January 3rd at Edwin Markham Middle School on Long Island. The officer is alleged to have been close to the school when a fight broke out between a group of teenagers. Scalzo and his partner responded to the situation and that is what led to him assaulting Robinson.
Robinson told the NY Post she was at the fight when the police officers arrived. She said that she initially thought the officers would stop the fight, but they joined it instead. “I jumped in, and the cops came and were supposed to be breaking it up, but the cops got into the fight,” she said. Robinson said when she saw that her sister was handcuffed, she asked Scalzo what he was doing. According to her, Scalzo pushed her, and she responded by hitting him twice. Robinson alleges he retaliated by hitting her eleven times. “I got a knot on my head,” Kyonna said. “I still have migraines. I can feel where the knot on my head is without touching it.”
“If you are going to have officers like police officers, you should know that they’re going to do the right thing, that they’re not going to beat up on a 14-year-old,” she said.
Robinson’s mother labeled the situation “upsetting” and “shocking.” She said she could not believe that a police officer would assault a 14-year-old girl.
Johanna Miller, Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Education Policy Center, shared similar sentiments. “We don’t know everything that happened before this video, but it’s hard to imagine how a police officer jumping in and punching a teenager is making any New Yorker safer,” she said. Miller lamented the fact that police officers are not trained to de-escalate situations and that they see teenagers as threatening and intimidating. “This is particularly true for young people of color, who tend to be seen as older and more threatening than white teenagers,” she added.
Video footage of the incident circulated on social media and Mayor Eric Adams condemned the police officer. He called on all available footage of the incident, including police body cam footage, to be used during the investigation of the incident. He also expressed his disappointment in Scalzo, who has been an officer for 14 years. “I was horrified to see the way a well-trained officer would respond to an incident like that.”
At an NYPD press briefing, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell addressed the matter. “The officers in that incident were responding to a violent fight among several people at that location. During the time when an officer was trying to take police action and apprehend one of the people for that fight, someone interfered in that apprehension and actually struck our officer,” she said. Sewell promised a thorough investigation that would follow due process.