When 14-year-old Kyonna Robinson saw her 12-year-old sister in a fight at their local Staten Island bus stop, her first instinct was to jump in and help her. Within minutes, according to the New York Daily News, Officer Nicholas Scalzo arrived on the scene—and that’s apparently when things got dangerous.
“It happened so quick, I couldn’t even think straight,” Robinson told the Daily News. “I just thought they were going to break up the fight and take us to the precinct.”
Video of the brutal eight-second-long beating has gone viral on social media, with many asking why Scalzo behaved so irrationally.
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Christy Lou, 13, told the Daily News, “He was hitting her repeatedly in the head. … I tried to grab her and pull her under me. He ended up hitting me.”
A police source reportedly said that Scalzo was punching in self-defense and to “gain compliance.”
“The cops came and they were supposed to be breaking it up, but obviously me and a cop got into a fight,” Robinson explained. “Basically they broke it up and they were putting everyone in handcuffs.”
Scalzo, a 14-year veteran in the 121st Precinct, struck Robinson at least nine times, the video shows.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Julian Phillips said in a statement that Robinson was obstructing the arrest when she attempted to stop Scalzo from putting handcuffs on her younger sister.
Robinson and her younger sister were both arrested and charged with assault, the Daily News reports, and later taken to the hospital.
Taneesha Robinson, the girl’s mother, says she wasn’t informed about her daughter’s whereabouts for several hours.
“I was informed that my child had been taken to the doctor’s, and that kind of caught me a little bit off guard,” Robinson, 39, said. “I wasn’t sure why she had to go to the doctor.”
It wasn’t until they got home and she saw the video that she learned of the beating by the officer.
“I had no idea about it. … I was hurt. It’s upsetting when a female was hit by a male, but this is a juvenile by a police officer, so it just brings it to another notch,” Robinson said.
Robinson said she thought her daughters were at the hospital due to Kyonna’s asthma.
New York Mayor Eric Adams praised Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell for swiftly suspending Scalzo.
During an unrelated press conference, Adams said he wasn’t “pleased” with the video, but despite the brutality by the officer, New Yorkers should continue to trust law enforcement.
“You could be the staunchest critic of a police officer, but you know three numbers in this city: 911,” he said. “You are happy when they pull up, you are happy to see them late at night, you’re happy if your child is out somewhere knowing that they are on the street.”
The New York Times reports that Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the city police officers’ union, has demanded further investigation.
“The police officers involved are entitled to due process, not summary judgment based on a few seconds of video,” Lynch said.
Scalzo’s case is being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, per the Daily News.