The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office yesterday dismissed all charges — including one of assaulting a police officer — against a Crown Heights man who was beat up by an NYPD officer earlier this month. It did so, however, only after more than 100,000 people signed an online petition calling for the charges to be dropped, the Voice has learned.
Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, the rabbi at the Aliya center where the beating occurred, started a petition on Change.org calling for the charges against Ehud Halevy to be dropped.
In his petition, Feiglin explains that his congregation gave Halevy — who currently is homeless — permission to sleep on a couch at the synagogue. The only reason police were hassling Halevy in the first place is because they thought he was trespassing by sleeping on the couch.
According to Feiglin, at no point prior to the beating did officers try to find out whether Halevy actually was trespassing — even though Halevy explained that he had permission to be there.
Then, after Halevy tried to explain that he had permission, the cops started beating him. He then spent four days in jail.
From Feiglin’s petition:
The Aliya (Alternative Learning
Institute for Young Adults) Congregation is a spiritual center for at
risk youth. We gave Ehud Halevy, a member of our congregation who is
currently homeless, full permission to sleep at the center in Crown
Heights, Brooklyn. But on October 8, Ehud was aggressively woken up from
his sleep in the middle of the night, wrongly accused of trespassing,
then repeatedly and violently attacked by two police officers. The
brutal attack was all caught on video and shows the officers continuing
to beat Ehud despite his lack of resistance. Ehud told the police he had
permission to be there but at no point before the beating took place
did the police try to contact anyone from the center.
After being severely beaten and pepper sprayed by the officers, Ehud
was arrested, held for four days, and charged with a felony count of
assault on police officers and three misdemeanors: resisting arrest,
obstruction and criminal trespass. The full attack was caught on
security camera and clearly shows that it does not match the police
report filed by the police officers which said that Mr. Halevy was
swinging his fists and striking police. We believe the police
fabricated the police report that they submitted and have failed to
publicly acknowledge what really happened that night.
Of the two officers involved, Luis Vega and Yelena Bruzzese, only
Vega has been slightly reprimanded. He was placed on desk duty and had
his gun taken away. This is not an adequate response from the New York
City Police Department and doesnt even begin to justify the abuse that
Ehud has undergone.
A foundation of our moral and belief system is that we are all
created in the image of God and must all adhere to the “7 Noahite laws”
regardless of race or religion to ensure we live in a safe and law
abiding society. These 7 laws are do not kill, do not steal, do not
commit adultery believe in one God, do not blaspheme Gods name, do not
be cruel to animals and to establish a system of justice.
We want members of our youth center to feel like they are coming to a
safe haven and a place they can call home and be protected and that
trust was lost. We are calling on the Brooklyn District Attorney to drop
all charges against Ehud immediately, he has suffered enough.
Brooklyn D.A.’s Office didn’t immediately respond when asked whether the petition had anything to do with its decision to drop the charges against Halevy (UPDATE: Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Schmetterer says the petition played no role in the D.A.’s decision to drop the charges. The decision was “made on the basis of the evidence,” he says).
The D.A. told the Voice yesterday that no decision has
been made about whether to charge any of the officers involved in the
beating with crimes, noting that the case is still being investigated.
Regardless, Halevy is off the hook.
you to everyone who signed our petition on Change.org,” Rabbi Feiglin
says. “Each signature truly helped to make this a reality. I hope this
sends a message that we should continue increasing our acts of goodness,
kindness and justice.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2012