VIDEO: N.Y.C. policeman faces assault charge for shoving woman during BLM protest

6/9/2020 9:55 PM   

New York City police officer Vincent D'Andraia, 28, of the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville, faces assault charges for shoving a 20-year-old woman to the street. Video footage of the incident went viral on social media platforms. A New York City police officer was charged with third-degree assault and other crimes Tuesday for viciously shoving to the street a 20-year-old woman who had been participating in a protest against police brutality. Also Tuesday, the head of the New York Police Department said that another cop had been placed on modified duty and referred to disciplinary action for an incident in which he opened the door of a moving police car, hitting a protestor.

The cop charged Tuesday, Vincent D'Andraia, 28, of the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville, already had been suspended by the New York Police Department for the May 29 incident, which was captured on a video widely shared on Twitter and other social media platforms.

The protest was one of many sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. That video shows D'Andraia hurling the protestor, Dounya Zayer, toward a curb on a street. He then walked off, with a police supervisor directly behind him. According to prosecutors, Zayer had been in the street when D'Andraia told her to move. When Zayer asked why, the officer allegedly smacked her phone out of her hand and then shoved her down. "I am deeply troubled by this unnecessary assault. We will now seek to hold this defendant accountable," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement.

Gonzalez charged D'Andraia with fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree harassment and third-degree menacing, in addition to the assault count. D'Andraia was released without bail after surrendering in Brooklyn Criminal Court, where a judge ordered him to have no contact with Zayer. The incident was one of a number in New York and other U.S. cities that has led to complaints of police overreaction to demonstrations related to Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes.

It is rare for an NYPD officer to be criminally charged in connection with their work, particularly in cases where they are accused of violence against a civilian. "I fully support the long-held American tradition of non-violent protest," Gonzalez said. "As District Attorney I cannot tolerate the use of excessive force against anyone exercising this Constitutionally guaranteed right. This is especially true of those who are sworn to protect us and uphold the law," the top prosecutor added.

Zayer has said that she was treated for a seizure and a concussion at a hospital after D'Andraia shoved her. "He did this in front of his lieutenant and multiple other officers who watched me hit the ground. One even looked back to make sure I was still on the ground, and they continued walking," Zayer said last week. "Not one officer tried to help me, and not one officer tried to stop the officer who assaulted me." Zayer's lawyer, in a statement issued Tuesday, said, "Officer D'Andraia's arrest is not justice and accountability remains to be seen. Dounya was assaulted for the very reason she was protesting- police brutality," said the lawyer, Tahanie Aboushi. "The NYPD has been allowed to engaged in this type of conduct with impunity for too long. As Civil Rights attorney, I have litigated excessive force cases for over a decade and if not for the video this would be business as usual for the NYPD. No badge, privilege or special interest is above the law," Aboushi said. The lawyer added, "It is also concerning that no action has been taken against Commander Craig Edelmen who sanctioned D'Andraia's misconduct by failing to intervene before, during and after his assault of Dounya. He has simply been reassigned which puts another community at risk and sends the message that supervisors who encourage this behavior are exempt from accountability." Police Commissioner Dermot Shea last week apologized for cases in which officers have engaged in racial bias, in excessive force, unacceptable behavior, unacceptable language, and many other mistakes.