NYPD under fire for video of cops beating homeless man
Brooklyn elected officials are demanding answers from the NYPD after a video showing two officers beating an unarmed homeless man inside a Crown Heights outreach center went viral.
The NYPD said the unnamed 49-year-old officer from the 79th Precinct who threw the first punch while making a boxing pose was placed on modified duty Monday for the Oct. 8 incident, which they are investigating.
Several leaders in the area, including Assemb. Dov Hikind, however, said there's no justification for the force used by the officer and his partner when they arrested Ehud Haleavy at the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults Center on East New York Avenue.
"This police officer thought he was in a boxing ring. This incident is so horrible and undermined the police department," Hikind said.
Haleavy, 21, was staying at the center, which serves as a synagogue and outreach home, for the last couple of weeks with the permission of its administrators, Hikind said. Cops were called by security around 4 a.m. after Halevy wouldn't leave the women's section of the center, according to police.
A surveillance video of his encounter with the officers was posted by the blog crownheights.info on Sunday.
The seven-minute clip, which was viewed more than 28,000 times as of Monday evening, shows a shirtless, shoeless Haleavy argue with the two officers and flail his arms while they try to handcuff him.
After the male officer punched him in the face, he and his female partner began to pummel him on a nearby couch. The female officer then used her baton on Haleavy, who was charged with assault, trespass, resisting arrest, harassment, and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said the department has taken the case seriously and internal affairs is already going through all of the evidence.
"The matter was also referred by [interal affairs] to the Civilian Complaint Review Board," he said in a statement.
The Brooklyn district attorney is probing the incident.
Hikind, who was joined by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Councilman David G. Greenfield, urged the NYPD to fire the officers and called for better police oversight.
Greenfield pushed the city to pass a bill that would create an Inspector General for the NYPD.
"These appear to be two of the worst members of the NYPD," Greenfield said.