A New York City police officer who fended off five men with a baton and a couple of kicks says pulling a gun should be a last resort. "Life is precious ... There are other tools that we've been given, other tactics that we've been shown, and we got to use all of the resources before going to deadly physical force," Syed Ali told reporters Thursday, per NBC News, after a video viewed nearly 5 million times across social media showed him confronting five suspects accused of sexually harassing a woman at a Manhattan subway stop on Sunday. On a solo foot patrol, the Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan pulled out his baton and kicked at least two homeless suspects who appeared combative. But he could be heard saying, "Stand back. I don't want to hurt you," reports NBC New York.
When one man, ultimately unhurt, tumbled onto the tracks, Ali ordered all trains be kept from the spot, per NBC. He "showed restraint & discipline in how he de-escalated the situation," tweeted Brooklyn councilman Chaim Deutsch, while Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded Ali's "extraordinary professionalism and bravery." Ali, however, says he was "just being a cop," which means evaluating each situation as it happens. "The police department and the Army have groomed me to take that second and think about it, even if it's a slight second," he says. After some delay, Juan Nunez, 27, and Leobardo Alvarado, 31, are now charged with obstructing governmental administration and riot, while 36-year-old Eliseo Alvarez Santos faces additional charges of attempted assault, attempted criminal possession of a weapon, and menacing. (Read more NYPD stories.)