NYPD suspends two cops for attacks on protesters in Brooklyn

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This video shows an NYPD officer shoving protester Dounya Zayer to the ground during a march in Brooklyn on May 30, 2020. (Photo via Twitter/@MattOrtega and @JasonLemon)

Two officers found to have brutally attacked protesters without just cause in Brooklyn last weekend have been suspended without pay, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced Friday night.

The first incident involves one officer who, on May 29, was shown on video shoving a woman to the ground during a protest in Brooklyn.

That night, according to reports, an officer shoved Dounya Zayer to the ground during the May 29 protest near the Barclays Center. The shove, caught on camera, left Zayer with a concussion and other injuries.

Shea did not name the officer in his June 5 announcement; the officer who made the shove was identified in published reports as Vincent D’Andraia, 28, of Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct in Brownsville. He was shown in another video of the incident allegedly calling Zayer a “stupid f—ing b*tch.” 

When contacted Friday, an NYPD spokesperson declined to identify the suspended officer by name, or confirm if the suspended officer was D’Andraia.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, in a statement about Shea’s announcement, identified the suspended officer as D’Andraia and the transferred supervisor as Deputy Inspector Craig Edelman, commanding officer of the 73rd Precinct.

“The suspension of Officer Vincent D’Andraia and removal of Deputy Inspector Craig Edelman from his command in central Brooklyn is an important step in the right direction,” Jeffries said. “Violent police officers who brutalize civilians must be held accountable for their behavior. It’s my hope this is the beginning of transformational change in the largest police department in the nation.”

The commissioner also announced that a supervisor on duty for the shove has been transferred.

In the second incident, an officer responsible for pulling down the mask of a young man protesting in Brooklyn on May 30 in order to pepper spray him was also suspended without pay. That officer’s identity was also withheld by police.

The suspensions were based on the results of investigations that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau conducted. Shea said that the officers involved potentially face additional disciplinary action from the NYPD Department Advocate. 

The announcement came just after the 8 p.m. curfew on June 5, as protesters were still marching in New York City streets in the rain, seeking an end to police brutality and racial injustice following the May 25 police-involved murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

The NYPD, Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio have come under heavy criticism over the past week for officers over-policing at some of these events. 

“These incidents … are disturbing and run counter to the principles of NYPD training, as well as our mission of public safety,” Shea said. “The actions by these officers stand apart from the restrained work of the thousands of other officers who have worked tirelessly to protect those who are peacefully protesting and keeping all New Yorkers safe.”

Shea said the suspensions were “appropriate and necessary to assure the public that there will be transparency during the disciplinary process.” He added that “other matters” related to police activity at the protests are being actively investigated, and that the NYPD would “be transparent as the process continues.”

State Attorney General Letitia James has also been ordered to conduct a 30-day independent investigation of the protests. 

On Saturday, de Blasio tweeted about the suspensions.

“[Two[ officers were just suspended without pay for misconduct during protests and a supervisor reassigned. All 3 now face further disciplinary action. More investigations are underway,” the mayor wrote. “New Yorkers deserve accountability. We can’t have trust between police and community without it.”