New York Pols Wonder How Many NYPD Beatings Aren't Caught on Tape
As we reported yesterday,a Crown Heights man was roughed up by a NYPD officers because they mistakenly thought he was trespassing
when they found him sleeping on a couch in a synagogue and outreach center for troubled youth in Crown Heights.
Following the two-minute-long beat-down -- during which he was punched in the head, pepper-sprayed, and beaten with a club -- he was hit with a felony charge of assaulting a police officer, as well as four misdemeanor charges and four violations, including trespassing, resisting arrest, and harassment.
Luckily, the beating was caught on tape, and it's clear the victim, Ehud Halevi, never assaulted anyone. Nor was he trespassing -- or harassing -- anyone. He was asleep.
The incident has prompted local pols to question how many similar beatings -- and BS criminal charges -- occur but are never questioned; in most cases, it's the word of a suspected criminal versus that of a cop -- a scenario where the cop wins almost every time.
"If not for the clear evidence of this video, we might believe that Mr. Halevi had committed the crime he was accused of, which included assaulting an officer of the law," says Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew who represents Brooklyn. "But the video proves this was a lie. How many similar claims by law enforcement officers are equally fictitious?"
Others, including City Council member Jumaane Williams, say the video is indicative of poor training from the higher-ups at the NYPD.
"This is another low for abuse of police power. Good policing does not require the excessive use of force Halevi endured and that New Yorkers are now seeing on their televisions," Williams says. "The NYPD is an institution to be trusted, not to be feared. Clearly that message was not absorbed by these officers, which calls into question once again the standards of training that they receive from their superiors."
The NYPD's story is that Halevi was drunk when he was awoken by the officers -- who were called by a janitor who thought Halevi was trespassing at the synagogue -- and that he became belligerent when they asked him to leave.
Halevi, however, had permission to be at the temple, and had been staying there for the past month. When he tried to explain this to the officers -- after having been abruptly woken up -- he refused to leave, and briefly resisted as the officers tried to throw cuffs on him. Then he got the crap kicked out of him.
The officer involved in the beating has been placed on modified duty as the NYPD's internal affairs bureau investigates the incident. The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office also is looking into the incident.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.