22 July 2015
A grocery store surveillance video shows a young black man holding his hands up in surrender before two New York police officers start pounding him in the head over the suspected theft of a $3 slice of pizza.
Thomas Jennings, 24, can be seen in the surveillance camera video leaning on the counter at a grocery store in Brooklyn on July 7, when NYPD officer Lenny Lutchman approaches from behind and immediately starts shoving him in the chest and grabbing his wrist. Jenning appears surprised and raises both hands in surrender.
Suddenly, Lutchman’s partner Pearce Martinez runs in and without breaking his stride or saying anything, rains down a full-force right hand punch to Jennings’ head. He continues to pummel him and Lutchman joins in, hitting Jennings with his baton. During the beating, Jennings remains curled over the counter and doesn’t fight back.
While Martinez handcuffs Jennings, Lutchman continues striking him, even though Martinez is facing no challenge from Jennings, who appears to helpfully put his hand behind his back.
“I didn’t ever know it was coming,” Jennings told the New York Daily News.
His mug shot from the arrest shows his right eye swollen completely shut.
Jennings was charged with robbery and held without bail for nearly a week until prosecutors released him after declining to present the case to a grand jury. Jennings’ attorney, Amy Rameau, said she believes prosecutors will drop the case because there was no robbery.
“It’s horrendous what they did to him,” Rameau told the Daily News. “He had his hands up. He didn’t pose a threat to anyone in that store. It was an absolute use of excessive force.”
The criminal complaint filed by police against Jennings says he is flailing his arms and resisting arrest, according to the New York Daily News. It also alleges that Jennings and another man pulled a knife on the employee of a nearby pizza restaurant and made off with pizza slices and salt-and-pepper shakers.
Jennings is a hip hop artist that goes by the stage name of Sen Tekk in the group BeenFamily, according to the Daily News.
“He’s an artist, he’s a father, he’s a son but unfortunately the police see him as an object, something to pound on,” his attorney said.
Watch the surveillance footage of the beating here, via the New York Daily News: