Community activists gathered at Binghamton City Hall on Wednesday evening in response to a recently released report from the New York Attorney General’s office, which found excessive force was used in the 2023 arrest of Hamail Waddell.

During the New Year’s Day arrest, a video that circulated on social media showed Officer Brad Kaczynski of the Binghamton Police Department kneeling on the neck and back of the then-24-year-old Waddell, a Black-Asian man, outside Dillinger’s Celtic Bar and Eatery. The incident drew criticism from members of the community and local activist groups, who said Kaczynski’s kneel reflected the one used on George Floyd in 2020.

In a press release, community members stated that they agreed with the report’s recommendation that Kaczynski, who was also off duty at the time of Waddell’s arrest, be terminated.

“In the nearly 18 months since the attack on Hamail Waddell, the actions of Officer Kaczynski and the officers who enabled him have continued to shock and traumatize our community,” the press release reads. “The police have added insult to injury by targeting anyone who dares speak out against their abuses. But if not for concerned community members elevating the profile of this incident, there would be no justice had for Mr. Waddell and his family.”

Community leaders laid out their demands during the speak-out — that Paul Battisti, the Broome County district attorney, charge Kaczynski with aggravated strangulation and the dismissal of all charges against Waddell and demonstrators at a February 2023 Wegmans protest, in addition to Kaczynski’s firing. Some also advocated for defunding the police.

The attorney general’s report found that Kaczynski’s actions constituted the use of excessive force and were in violation of the U.S. and New York constitutions and BPD’s Use of Force policy. While department policy allows for force that is “objectively reasonable, where physical removal is necessary to overcome passive resistance” to be exerted on handcuffed individuals, the report determined that kneeling on Waddell’s neck for over a minute was an unnecessary use of this force.

“While Officer Kaczynski stated that he put his knee on the Complainant so that he could observe the surrounding crowd, both video and testimonial evidence confirm that at least five other officers were standing in the immediate vicinity,” the report reads. “There is no objective reason for Officer Kaczynski putting his knee on the Complainant’s neck or upper back or anything that would have prevented him from immediately shifting the Complainant off his stomach after handcuffing, as he eventually did at Sergeant Keller’s direction,” referring to another officer interviewed by investigators.

Kaczynski neglected to follow two additional arrest procedures — that prisoners be searched for weapons or contraband and for seat belts to be used during their transport, according to the report. It recommends disciplinary action for Kaczynski and the implementation of police training to highlight the appropriate use of force when dealing with restrained individuals and effective intervention methods.

The report’s release drew a response from Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham, who said the city cooperated fully with the investigation and highlighted BPD’s state accreditation.

“I believe the report fails to accurately portray the full circumstances of the incident,” he wrote in a statement. “In the coming days, we will be reviewing this report and all surrounding information and intend to conduct a thoughtful, comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the report.”

The statement also released video footage of Waddell’s arrest. BPD did not return Pipe Dream’s request for comment.

Speakers outside City Hall reiterated the attorney general’s report findings, emphasizing their demands and standing in solidarity with Waddell and all victims of police brutality. After gathering outside City Hall, activists intended to attend the City Council business meeting for public comment.

“Tonight, we will once again voice our concerns to the City Council regarding the ongoing misconduct of the Binghamton Police Department and afford them the opportunity to call for the termination of Officer Brad Kaczynski and the dismissal of all subsequent charges stemming from the initial assault,” the press release reads.