Manhattan D.A. charges Asian NYPD cop for assault in Harlem jail cell

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of NYPD Sergeant PHILLIP WONG, 37, for punching a 48-year-old man in a Harlem holding cell in October 2019, and attacking a 35-year-old man during an arrest in an Upper West Side subway station in April 2020. WONG is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with one count of Assault in the Third Degree and one count of Attempted Assault in the Third Degree.

“When NYPD officers head into the field each day to face unknown and potentially life-threatening situations, they do one of the most difficult jobs in the world,” said District Attorney Vance. “But having sworn an oath to protect and serve their communities, those difficult jobs need to be carried out with the utmost integrity and professionalism, especially by officers in leadership. As alleged, this Sergeant grossly violated his training – and the law – during the arrests of these two individuals, whose conduct did not justify these violent responses. Our Office will not accept police violence, and we encourage any victims or witnesses of similar conduct to report it to our Police Accountability Unit at https://www.manhattanda.org/policemisconduct.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, on October 4, 2019, WONG, a 15-year veteran of the NYPD, was a sergeant assigned to Transit District 3 when a group of officers brought a 48-year-old man and two other individuals to the precinct on West 145thStreet for arrest processing. WONG and two other officers escorted the man to the holding cells. As the officers closed the cell door, the man – who was handcuffed – kicked the door one time and began spitting at them. WONG then pushed past the two officers, re-opened the door, and punched the man in the face. The man was transported to the hospital and treated for a laceration above his right eye, which required stitches.

In another incident, on April 29, 2020, WONG was observing officers under his supervision at the subway station at West 96thStreet and Broadway, when an officer arrested a 35-year-old man after observing him punch another passenger on an arriving train. As the officers led the man out of the station, he yelled obscenities and anti-Asian slurs at WONG, then kicked WONG in the leg when they reached the emergency exit. WONG and another officer brought the man to the ground with his arms rear-cuffed, and WONG knelt on the man’s back as the man lay on his stomach. The man continued to taunt WONG, and then shouted, “I can’t breathe!” WONG responded, “I don’t give a f**k if you can breathe or not!” and punched the man in the side of the face. WONG then placed both of his knees on the man’s back and bounced on his back multiple times. The man was taken to the hospital, where medical staff determined he had not sustained any physical injuries.


Assistant D.A. Carolina Nevin is handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Stephanie Minogue, Deputy Chief of the Police Accountability Unit, and Nick Viorst, Chief of the Police Accountability Unit, and Executive Assistant D.A. for Prosecution Policies José Fanjul. Senior Rackets Investigator Edward Johnson and Investigative Analyst Anna Fretz assisted with the investigation.