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Officials call for probe into Freeport man’s arrest


Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has asked for an independent investigation after three Freeport Police officers pulled a suspect over a fence and tackled him to the ground while attempting to arrest him, after which a number of officers piled on top of him on Tuesday.

In the video, officers are seen throwing punches at the suspect and apparently using a stun gun on him while he is on the ground. It was unclear whether the punches landed on the suspect. A bystander videotaped the incident and posted it on social media.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy also called for an independent probe.

When the officers arrested Akbar Roger on Tuesday, he was wanted on outstanding warrants for aggravated unlicensed driving and in connection with a physical harassment case, according to the Freeport village attorney, Howard Colton.

Tuesday night, Roger was at home in Freeport. When officers approached him, he ran off, police said. Officers pursued him on foot, running through a residential neighborhood and across people's backyards. When officers caught up with him, police said, they asked him several times to stop, but Roger refused and reached into his waistband. They then immediately wrestled him to the ground.

“I have viewed the video and have many questions," Curran said. "I call for an independent investigation of this arrest by the Freeport Village Police. At this time, I am asking all to remain calm and patient as the investigation unfolds.“

Kennedy and Trustee Carmen Pineyero agreed that the Nassau County district attorney’s office should investigate the incident. A spokesperson for District Attorney Madeline Singas said her office would take over the investigation.

According to Pineyero, Tuesday's incident "appears to show use of excessive force and demands a full, independent investigation by an outside independent unit."

"The incident that occurred in our community has brought to the forefront once again the issue of police and community interactions and relations,” Pineyero said. "Our community has come a long way over recent decades in improving its relationship with our police. Of course, these relations are not perfect, and there is absolutely room for improvement."

Nassau County legislators Debra Mulé and Kevan M. Abrahams, both Democrats who represent Freeport, issued a joint statement on the incident and asked the public to be patient while the case is under investigation.

"We are thankful that the district attorney's office is reviewing the arrest captured in this video," the legislators said. "We are deeply concerned by the contents of this video and believe a comprehensive, independent investigation is essential."

The Freeport Police Benevolent Association offered words of support for the officers. The PBA stands “behind our officers and the safety and security of the residents we serve," PBA President Shawn Randall said. "I am confident that when the judicial process is complete and all facts are presented, it will be confirmed that our officers did their jobs in accordance with the law.”

Before Tuesday night's arrest, there was a complaint on Oct. 13 that Roger had pushed an unidentified 35-year-old person to the ground, causing injuries and then running off. On Nov. 3, Freeport police tried to arrest Roger, but a chase ensued. Roger drove through the village at 100 mph into oncoming traffic and blew through a number of traffic lights and stop signs, police said. Officers called off the chase, believing Roger was endangering the public, they said.

After his arrest, Roger was transported to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries. He was later released to authorities. One Freeport police officer was injured during Roger’s apprehension.

A number of Long Island-based progressive organizations have called for greater training of police.

This is an ongoing story.