NY Attorney General investigating Binghamton police's arrest of Hamail Waddell: What to know

This story has been updated with a statement from Hamail Waddell's attorney.

The Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the New Year's Day arrest of Binghamton resident Hamail Waddell.

The Attorney General's office requested the records of Waddell's arrest as well as his verbal complaint on Jan. 2, according to a statement released by Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham on Friday.

"It is my hope the Office of Attorney General’s review will result in additional bystander video footage of the arrest being made available to assist in determining the facts," Kraham said.

More:Hamail Waddell pleads not guilty amid calls for charges against Binghamton police officer

Videos show Binghamton officer kneeling on Waddell's neck

A hand-drawn sign left outside Binghamton City Hall reads "drop the charges #JusticeForHamail" following the Jan. 18 arraignment of Hamail Waddell.
A hand-drawn sign left outside Binghamton City Hall reads "drop the charges #JusticeForHamail" following the Jan. 18 arraignment of Hamail Waddell.

Waddell pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest stemming from the incident in which Binghamton police officer Brad Kaczynski was filmed kneeling on his neck.

Multiple bystander videos show Waddell, who was facedown in handcuffs on the sidewalk at Hawley and Collier streets, shouting, “I can’t breathe!” as bystanders pleaded with Kaczynski to remove his knee from Waddell’s neck — a scene that local advocates have described as similar to the events leading to the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

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The Binghamton Police Department announced Jan. 6 that Kaczynski would be placed on administrative duty while the department investigates.

In a signed deposition, Kaczynski said Waddell "engaged in a large, mutually combative fight," which led to the arrest.

“I advised said defendant that he was under arrest and attempted to handcuff him when he intentionally pulled away from myself and other uniformed Police Officers,” Kaczynski wrote. “I ordered said defendant to put his hands behind his back and to stop pulling away and he refused to comply with my commands.”

Video:See the videos and photos posted of Hamail Waddell's arrest in Binghamton

Calls for officer to be charged following Waddell's arrest

Waddell sisters Natalie, Ahmoni and Aysha hold enlarged photographs of their brother, Hamail Waddell, depicting his Jan. 1 arrest and Christmas morning with his two daughters.
Waddell sisters Natalie, Ahmoni and Aysha hold enlarged photographs of their brother, Hamail Waddell, depicting his Jan. 1 arrest and Christmas morning with his two daughters.

In the subsequent days following Waddell's arrest, video of the incident was shared across social media as advocates called for Kaczynski to be charged.

Waddell's attorney, Dara Silberstein, said the "horrific" restraints used constituted a violation of the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Law, which was passed after a New York City man was killed in 2014 after being placed in a chokehold by a New York Police Department officer.

"We welcome the AG's office involvement," Silberstein said Friday. "There certainly is enough in the public domain that shows the officer kneeling on Mr. Waddell's neck and other officers stood by failing to intervene."

Several dozen community organizers shut down last week's Binghamton City Council meeting, calling for Kaczynski’s immediate firing and arrest under the anti-chokehold law, which establishes grounds for felony charges for police officers who engage in “violent strangulation,” or “criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation.”

The Binghamton Police Department is asking anyone with information about the Jan. 1 arrest to contact 607-772-7089.

Reporting from Sarah Eames contributed to this story.

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This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Binghamton arrest of Hamail Waddell investigated by NY AG