New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was “troubled” by the video of two NYPD vehicles driving into a crowd of protesters, but said it was a “very difficult situation” for police.
In an exclusive interview with the “TODAY” show on Monday morning, Shea told Savannah Guthrie that “anyone that looks at that has to be troubled by what they saw.”
The footage from Saturday shows people placing a metal barrier in front of one NYPD SUV that had come to a stop on a street. Another vehicle then pulls up and slows down. When protesters began banging on the second vehicle, the police accelerated the vehicle, pushing numerous people in the crowd with it. The first vehicle then drove into the protesters, pushing them forward and knocking them on the ground.
“There will be an investigation,” Shea said of the incident.
The commissioner said the cars were “getting attacked and have to basically get out of there as quickly as possible. So, it’s a very difficult situation without a good ending either way.”
“If you look at that entire video…I would describe it as an ambush,” Shea said. “It’s clearly something no one should want to see.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the New York City Police Department on Sunday.
“It is inappropriate for protestors to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers,” he said. “That’s wrong on its face and that hasn’t happened in the history of protests in this city.” The mayor did say the city needs to conduct a “full investigation” of the incident. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused de Blasio of “making excuses” for the NYPD.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that New York Attorney General Letitia James will review the actions and procedures used by the NYPD during the protests over the weekend.
Shea also rebuked calls for implementing a curfew or activating the national guard in New York City in his interview on Monday, saying it wouldn’t help.
“We don’t need the national guard,” Shea told “TODAY” plainly. “We could impose a curfew today and the problem is people need to listen to a curfew and that’s not going to happen.”