Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg today announced the guilty plea 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. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to both counts in the indictment against him: Assault in the Third Degree and Attempted Assault in the Third Degree.
“Law enforcement officials are sworn to serve and protect their communities, including New Yorkers in their custody,” said District Attorney Bragg. “In this case, Sergeant Wong violated not only his oath – but the law – during the violent arrests of two New Yorkers, on two separate occasions. Our Office will continue to investigate and prosecute police violence, and we encourage any victims or witnesses of similar conduct to report it to our Police Accountability Unit.”
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 145th Street 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 96th Street 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.
[Wong received two years of probation, 70 hours of community service and anger management counseling, according to the NY Post]
Assistant D.A.s Stephanie Minogue, Deputy Chief of the Police Accountability Unit, and Carolina Nevin, also of the Police Accountability Unit, handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Nick Viorst, Chief of the Police Accountability Unit. Senior Rackets Investigator Edward Johnson and Investigative Analyst Anna Fretz also assisted with the investigation.
District Attorney Bragg thanked the NYPD’s Transit Bureau Investigations Unit for its assistance with the investigation.