A screen cap from video four of the 10 videos released on Friday. The footage is from a body camera.

May 4, 2019

City of Ithaca Posts Body Camera Videos from Controversial Commons Arrests

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The City of Ithaca posted videos online from an incident in the Commons on April 6, when Ithaca Police Department officers arrested a black man and woman after they said the man punched another male. The footage was shared after Black Lives Matter Ithaca and other groups demanded its release from the mayor and IPD.

The 10 videos include police officers’ body camera footage as well as footage recorded by stationary cameras in the Commons. The footage details the chaotic arrest of Cadji Ferguson, of Ithaca, and Rose Degroat, of Ithaca, as well as the detention and interview of others at the scene.

Multiple body camera videos start the same, as officers stood at one end of the Commons, near The Cornell Store. The videos are muted until officers suddenly began to run, stopping in the area outside of the Autumn Leaves Used Books store. Here, officers yelled “get on the ground,” at least four times before firing a taser at Ferguson.

Footage shows Degroat pulled on the back of a policeman. An officer tells Degroat to also “get on the ground,” in body camera footage as Degroat continues to push and pull away.

Screaming and repeated commands of “get back” were heard in multiple videos as one officer pointed a taser at spectators, several of whom were taking videos ofthe incident. Individuals in the background of the video can be heard shouting and pleading that the officers don’t hurt Degroat.

After Degroat and Ferguson were on the ground, the volume appeared to subside, and an individual can be heard trying to reassure Degroat, repeating “Rosie, Rosie, calm down.” An officer waved his arms in front of people who are still videotaping the incident.

As Ferguson is walked to the police car, he said to the officer, “you guys don’t even know what happened … this is crazy.”

An officer replied: “Well, the great thing about it is now we can figure it out, right?”

“You guys tased me,” Ferguson said. When the officer asked him how it felt, he says, “it didn’t feel too great.”

As Ferguson is turned against a police door, an officer walks around and retrieves the identification information of the man they say Ferguson hit. The officers ask the man — who says he is in Ithaca for his son’s Cornell wrestling tryouts — whether he would like to pursue charges. On the phone, he consults someone, saying, “These black guys fucked with me. And then I slapped them around a little bit … they, they cold cocked me.”

In later footage, as Degroat is put in a police car, another woman is seen being “detained,” according to an officer, as her friend records the interaction on her phone. The woman’s arms are held behind her back as she asks her friend, “Emily, can you put my phone in my purse?”

Her friend Emily argues with the officers, asking why the woman is being detained, saying “she didn’t lay a hand on anyone.”

The officer walks the detained woman across the street, and then talks with other police department members, discussing who has been arrested. When approached by bystanders, the officers says that he “will explain everything,” but that he doesn’t know yet.

Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 posted a link to the videos Friday night, prefacing that they may show “tense and at times violent events,” and that there were redactions in some footage for the sake of privacy. The footage has been shared nearly a month after the incident, and three days after Black Lives Matter Ithaca shared a letter on Tuesday, demanding that Myrick and IPD release the footage from April 6.

Black Lives Matter Ithaca did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

Ferguson has been charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to the Ithaca City Court site. Degroat was initially charged with two counts of assault in the second degree. Her charges were reduced to one count of resisting arrest and two counts of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree.

Much of the footage shared was from individual body cameras of officers on the scene. After the arrests, as one officer talked to Emily, he called body cameras the “greatest thing” that has happened for law enforcement.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs ’19 contributed reporting to this article.