New York, NY – Police are calling New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez a “coward” and a “liar” after he posted a tweet claiming New York Police Department (NYPD) officers had put a chokehold on him during a protest on Thursday.
Rodriguez was arrested when he joined a group of protesters who were blocking an ambulance. City Councilman Jumaane Williams also was arrested.
NYPD Sergeant Jessica McRorie said that video footage of the altercation with Rodriguez was being reviewed, AMNY reported.
“At this point, it appears the police were clearing a path for an ambulance with a patient inside that was en route to a hospital,” Sgt. McRorie said in a statement she emailed to AMNY.
“The NYPD was attempting to clear a path for that ambulance, which was purposely and repeatedly being blocked,” she said.
The ambulance was carrying Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the faith-based immigrant rights group New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City.
Ragbir fainted after he was detained during a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a member of the New Sanctuary Coalition said.
ICE said the immigration rights activist had no legal standing to remain in the United States, and should be returned to his home country of Trinidad.
Rodriguez posted a picture of himself on Twitter in an altercation with police, calling it a “chokehold.”
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, an organization the represents 13,000 active and retired members of NYPD, fired back a savage response demanding Rodriguez tell people what had actually happened.
About 300 protesters, which included several city council members, had gathered to support Ragbir as he made a routine check-in with ICE.
The group got rowdy after Ragbir was taken into custody, but mayhem broke out when they saw an ambulance trying to leave the facility. Eighteen people were arrested, WABC-TV reported.
Police expressed concern that officials would bow to political pressure about the incident.
The Lieutenants Benevolent Association president, Lou Turco, called for Mayor Bill de Blasio “to start an investigation on these council members that actively went in front of an ambulance with its emergency lights on taking a patient to the hospital.”
“They have a right to protest. It’s the American way, I get it,” Turco said, according to the New York Post. ““But they cannot block an ambulance going to the hospital. And these are council members who are dictating policy for the city of New York.”
A spokesman for the mayor said de Blasio had been briefed on the situation.
“The area is covered extensively by cameras and we’ll be reviewing the footage to get to the bottom of what happened,” Eric Phillips said.