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NYPD commissioner defends cops in baton beatdown video

The NYPD’s top cop stood by the officers filmed clubbing two Washington Heights men, demanding on Friday that the Manhattan district attorney get tough with the suspects — and take further action against them.

“It’s not just about the two cops now — it’s about all New York City cops, keeping them safe. And it’s about, quite frankly, all New Yorkers, keeping them safe and making sure their quality of life is where it should be,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill told radio host Joe Piscopo on AM 970 The Answer.

O’Neill said the two officers were doing “what they were supposed to do” when they stopped Sydney Williams and Aaron Grissom on Tuesday inside 168th Street station near Broadway in Upper Manhattan.

“That day, they were approached and were told that there were people on the stairways harassing passengers,” O’Neill said. “The two police officers went and they told them that they couldn’t be there and it started. One of the cops made a decision to arrest Mr. Grissom and Mr. Williams, and Mr. Grissom decided he was gonna punch a cop.”

“You can’t punch a cop. You can’t fight a cop. You can’t resist arrest,” he added. “You have to respect police.”

O’Neill noted that the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the afternoon melee, which spilled out onto Broadway near 169th Street, where bystanders and surveillance cameras caught it on video.

Two plainclothes officers and an off-duty cop also stepped in to help. Both uniformed officers activated their body cameras during the brawl, and the footage is being looked at as part of the investigation.

“These two subjects attacked our police officer,” O’Neill reiterated. “At one point, one of the subjects is on top of our cop beating him — that’s part of the video that people see.”

The city’s top cop pointed out that Williams has boasted on social media about fighting with police, and noted, “He’s a serial resister, and when it’s over, he sues the police department.

“This is part of what we see, and it’s important that the people of New York know that.”

In a video posted to his Facebook, and released by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Williams, 37, brags to the camera: “Every case I got, I beat. Who you know snuff cops and come home the next day? I do this,” he says in the video.

“These hands, these hands work,” he continues, while shaking a fist at the camera.

After Tuesday’s incident, both Williams and Grissom were arrested and hit with felony assault, resisting arrest, menacing, disorderly conduct and loitering charges, police said at the time.

But the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office only sought charges against Grissom, for felony assault, and released him without bail.

On Thursday night, O’Neill blasted the DA’s office.

“The decision to seek charges against only 1 perp in Wash Hts subway arrest — & to seek no bail at all — puts safety of cops & public in jeopardy, & sends entirely wrong message to NYers,” he tweeted. “#NYPD is asking DAs to indict Grissom, charge Williams &, impose bail.”

He doubled down on his request Friday morning, asking for the DA to indict Grissom, charge Williams and request bail.

A spokesman for Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said, “Our Office is conducting a full, fair, and independent investigation into the alleged offenses for which Mr. Grissom and Mr. Williams were arrested.”

“We are separately conducting a full, fair, and independent investigation into the force used by Officers during this encounter,” spokesman Danny Frost added.

“With regard to Mr. Williams, our Office does not currently have probable cause to believe that this defendant committed a crime. Accordingly, we are deferring a charging decision as to Mr. Williams pending the completion of this investigation.”

Additional reporting by Rebecca Rosenberg

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