As Akbar Rogers watched the video of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, the Freeporter's mind flashed back to what happened to him seven months earlier.
On Dec. 3, Freeport Police officers chased the 44-year-old, who had a bench warrant for his arrest, and wrestled him to the ground. Video captured by a bystander shows seven white officers on top of Rogers, with one officer kicking him and another punching him.
Rogers said there were multiple instances during the arrest in which he told police he couldn’t breathe. He said officers responded to his pleas with expletives.
Rogers has remained quiet since the incident, allowing his attorneys and community advocates to speak on his behalf, but he said he was done staying silent as he shared his story publicly for the first time during a Black Lives Matter Rally in front of the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, in Mineola on June 25..
“I knew I couldn’t be silent,” Rogers told protesters as his hands shook while holding the microphone. “I needed to speak out, and we need to stop the next George Floyd, the next Eric Garner from happening again.”
Rogers's attorney, Greg-Patric Martello, said his client suffered a fractured wrist and severe injuries to his shoulder and back.
Rogers, along with local community advocates and State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, urged District Attorney Madeline Singas to fully investigate Rogers's case, as well as drop the charges for resisting arrest against Rogers.
Nia Adams, of Jericho, who helped organize the event, said she was devastated when she saw what happened to Rogers. She put together a rally for Rogers in December, and said that the fact that nothing has happened with his case yet is unacceptable.
“We need to put pressure on our leaders now more than ever,” Adams said. “Six months agao, we said, ‘No Justice, No Peace,’ and we meant it.”
A spokesman from the DA’s office said that the case was under review.
The Rev. Arthur Mackey Jr., of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, in Roosevelt, added that the seven officers involved in Rogers’s arrest should no longer be employed as police officers.
“We need to make sure each officer is arrested, charged and convicted,” Mackey said. “We need to stand against racism in our own county.”
Before the protests began, Rogers filed a lawsuit against the Freeport Police Department, the Village of Freeport, Nassau County and the Nassau County Police Department for $25 million.
Both Nassau County and village officials said they would not comment on pending litigation.