On Sunday, video was captured showing Captain Emilio Melendez, a police officer known as “Captain America” by his colleagues, destroying a sidewalk memorial that was allegedly left by gang members. The makeshift memorial reportedly was for a man who perished in a motorcycle accident approximately four years ago, and the footage shows Melendez kicking and stomping it.
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The incident took place during the Dominican Day Parade in New York at a location near the Grand Concourse, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
Melendez, a captain with the NYPD, confronted a group near the memorial, which was dedicated to a man who died in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic about four years ago, and then began knocking over the candles, which numbered around two dozen.
“I will not have a fire on my block,” Melendez can be heard shouting during the one-minute clip.
Several other officers watch the incident unfold, and one of the men who set up the memorial can be heard saying, “Look, bro, that’s a violation.”
Another from the group asks Melendez for his name and threatens to report the officer.
Melendez then gestures toward his badge, saying, “Captain Melendez. Have a nice day. Captain Melendez.”
“If I catch you guys out here drinking and smoking week again,” he adds, “I will issue you summonses.”
The captain then takes out his phone, capturing footage of the damage as well as the men in the area.
A police source reportedly stated that Melendez was sent to the area to disperse a large crowd, including people who were smoking marijuana and drinking.
“He got a call from the Chief of Department’s office telling him to clean up that mess. And now everyone is coming down on him on social media,” said the source.
An additional source claimed that the men who put up the memorial were Trinitarios gang members.
The video, which quickly went viral, sparked a backlash on social media.
“Disgusting behavior by Capt Melendez,” said one Twitter user. “Why are cops so disrespectful but yet want empathy! This is not how you build relationships with your community.”
Another wrote that Melendez “should receive a verbal reprimand for bringing local & nation shame upon the @NYPD.”
“He should’ve explained that unattended open flames were a fire hazard and extinguish the candles,” the social media user added. “Kicking over the memorial was very disrespectful.”
A spokeswoman for the NYPD stated that the department is investigating the incident.
NYPD Officer Caught On Video Destroying A Memorial pic.twitter.com/lycIEnMPzr
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) July 31, 2018