Last October, five NYPD officers burst into the Brooklyn apartment of John Antoine, 86, and demanded that he drop the kitchen knife he was using to chop onions, then hit him with a stun gun. Antoine hadn’t done anything wrong. He wasn’t even the guy the cops were looking for. According to an NYPD spokesman, the officer who tasered Antoine should be commended for his “intelligent restraint.”

The officers were responding to a call about Antoine’s daughter’s boyfriend, who was reported to be suicidal. That man was 23 years old, information that was given to an NYPD dispatcher but was apparently not passed on to the responding officer. Antoine was charged with harassment after the incident, charges which the Brooklyn District Attorney dismissed this week. Antoine told the local NBC affiliate that the cops also kicked him in the stomach.

When NBC contacted the NYPD for comment on its story about Antoine’s charges being dropped, a department spokesman told them this:

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The responding sergeant demonstrated a level of intelligent restraint that is to be commended. The sergeant holstered his firearm, and instead deployed his less-than-lethal conducted-energy device, bringing the threat to its conclusion.

There’s a lot to unpack here. As the attorney and blogger Scott Greenfield points out on his blog Simple Justice, the shock-and-kick routine the officers gave Antoine can only be considered “restrained” when compared to an even more forceful alternative. It’s like the department is patting this sergeant on the back for the achievement of not killing an unarmed octogenarian as he made his soup.

The department nearly said as much in a comment to the New York Daily News:

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The NYPD said the cops responded in appropriate fashion. A police spokesman commended the sergeant for not shooting Antoine.

Also, in the statement to NBC, the officer is commended for “bringing the threat to its conclusion.” Who is the threat here? The guy who was born during the Hoover administration or the one with the power to electrocute anyone who rubs him the wrong way?

Antoine’s attorney told NBC he plans to file a $5 million lawsuit against the city. Good luck to him.


Screenshot via NBC 4. Contact the author at andy@gawker.com.