Actions depicted on videos showing police using batons and motorcycles to ram through an Occupy Wall Street West blockade in the Financial District last week were necessary because other officers needed help, police said Tuesday.
Officer Carlos Manfredi said a call for help from another officer came in moments before the video was shot.
“When an officer calls for help, it’s a pretty big deal,” Manfredi said. “The first thought is to get out there to help that person.”
Manfredi said the motorcycle cops had gone to a staging area when protesters moved to block the intersection at Sacramento and Montgomery streets. Simultaneously, the call for help at another location came out and the motorcycle cops were trying to get through the line of protesters.
“We let them know [the cops] needed to get through and to make room to send motorcycle units through there,” Manfredi said. “Because that didn’t happen, physical force was then used.”
A video posted on YouTube shows a group of cops on motorcycles trying to get through the line of demonstrators. A young woman refuses to let them through. A second officer on a motorcycle rams into her. At this point, the tablet used to record the incident drops to the ground, but faces up. Moments later, an officer identified on blogs as Cmdr. Mikail Ali is seen stepping over the camera and using his baton to shove away protesters.
Another video that was taken by a separate person shows officers with their batons drawn, including Ali, forcing protesters out of the street.
Manfredi said Friday’s protests were “heated” and took place in multiple locations, making it possible cops would have needed assistance if they were surrounded by protesters. A total of 18 people were arrested throughout the day.