Video Prompts Review Of Cops’ Conduct In Crown Hts. Arrest

Officials call use of force excessive; Jewish youth center employee regrets calling 911.

10/16/12
Assistant Managing Editor
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New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau are probing the case of a man beaten by cops inside a Crown Heights Jewish youth center during an Oct. 8 arrest, a police spokesman said Monday.

“The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation of the incident yesterday, after having seen a video of it,” Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told The Jewish Week in an e-mail. “The matter was also referred by IAB to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. One of the officers,  [a male Hispanic, age 49] and assigned to the 71st Pct. has been placed on modified assignment while the incident is under investigation.”

A surveillance video (below) showing two cops pummeling the shirtless man, Ehud Halevy, 21, after they were called to remove him from the lounge of the Aliya youth center on East New York Avenue was released Sunday by the website CrownHeights.info and immediately led to accusations of excessive force.

The police allege Halevy assaulted a cop, resisted arrest and was in possession of marijuana.

Halevy had permission to sleep in the center but a volunteer called the police. The volunteer, Zlamy Trappler, 24, later said he regretted making that call, telling the Daily News, “I should have let him sleep.”

“There was a miscommunication,” the founder of the center, Rabbi Moshe Feiglin, told The Jewish Week. “He needed a place to crash for a little bit while he gets his life together. The person who locked up didn’t recognize him and for some reason asked him to leave, and it got confrontational.”
 

(Note: This video and its title were created and posted by CrownHeights.info)

Halevy was held for four four days and released Oct. 11 on $1,500 bail. His whereabouts were not known on Tuesday and he could not be reached for comment. Rabbi Feiglin said Halevy was “traumatized” and did not want to be contacted by anyone.

He said Halevy was from Flatbush and currently between jobs but provided no other details. He said the center had retained a lawyer on Halevy’s behalf but he was not ready to disclose who it is.

As of Tuesday, Browne did not respond to two emails asking if all charges against Halevy were still pending.

Rabbi Feiglin said the center has a policy against drug use on premises but would not ban someone because of it. He said on prior occasions marijuana had been confiscated at the center by staff.

Aliya (Advanced Learning Institute for Young Adults) was founded in 2003 by Australia-born Rabbi Feiglin, who is a first cousin of an Israeli political figure with the same name.

According to its website, the center “is committed to serving spiritual, physical, educational, emotional and vocational needs of young adults in the Crown Heights community.”

The incident unfolded about 5 a.m. during the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. Halevy had been staying at the center for about a month.

The video shows a gloved, male officer assuming a boxing stance during the confrontation, before hitting Halevy repeatedly with his fists. The officer’s female partner is also seen hitting him, using a baton.

The video also shows Halevy strenuously resisting efforts to handcuff him before the scuffle ensued, but never shows him attacking the cops.

The cops involved were identified by The Daily News, citing the criminal complaint, as Luis Vega and Yelena Bruzzese. The court documents also allege Halevy threatened to punch the cop, the News said.

Additional officers from the 71st Precinct soon arrived to assist, although by that time Halevy is seen on a couch in a defensive posture.

Although the video has no audio, reports say Halevy tried to tell the cops he had permission to sleep at the youth center.

In his statement, Browne said, “Police responded on October 8 at 5:12 a.m. to a call of a dispute inside of a synagogue’s outreach center in Brooklyn, where a man refused to vacate the women’s portion of the center. The officers used force to affect the arrest, in which Ehud Haleavy [sic] M/W/21 was charged with assault, trespass, resisting arrest, harassment, and unlawful possession of marijuana.”

Prior to the announcement of an internal affairs investigation, community leaders and elected officials on Monday morning gathered in Crown Heights to call for disciplinary action.

“These appear to be two of the worst members of the NYPD,” said Councilman David Greenfield, who represents Borough Park and Midwood, in a statement. “It is an embarrassment to the entire outstanding police department that two trained and armed police officers were unable to arrest this individual without resorting to the disturbing violence clearly shown on the video.”

Greenfield also called on Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to investigate whether there was criminal behavior. He is co-sponsoring legislation to establish an inspector general of the NYPD to investigate abuse allegations, currently handled by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

In addition to Crown Heights Jewish leaders, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council member Letitia James and other officials attended the press conference on Monday. Halevy was not present.

A spokesman for Anti-Defamation League on Monday told The Jewish Week the agency had no comment about the incident at this time.

Barry Sugar, founder of the Jewish Leadership Council, a group that has been critical of the NYPD and DA’s conduct toward the Crown Heights Jewish community,

said in an interview Monday that “we have reached out to the police department on a number of occasions regarding violent attacks [against civilians] and they have not been responsive.”

He said Halevy “had permission to stay there and told the officers I will get you the phone number of the dean of the center. The person who called [the police] had no authorization.”

Sugar said there had been an incident a few months ago at the center in which a police patrol asked youths outside the center to extinguish a barbecue and the youths refused, resulting in one arrest. He described the incident as tense. Rabbi Feiglin confirmed that the incident happened but said the person involved surrendered peacefully to the police.

When told by The Jewish Week that the officer involved in the Oct. 8 incident was placed on modified assignment, Rabbi Feiglin said, “We’re very happy they are investigating, and we hope this doesn’t happen again.

“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.”

Reaction to the video was mixed.

“A petition should be started to demand that the male officer is fired immediately,” Eric Krasner posted on The Jewish Week’s Facebook page in a thread about the incident.

But David Pitch countered in the same thread, “Totally justified. They actually teach boxing in the academy. The officers received a 911 call from the security guard who couldn’t handle the situation, the perp resisted arrest and took a fight position and then chest-bumped the officer. …  It’s insulting that Hikind would create such a tumult over nothing. Officers are not paid to take punches from the public...”
 

Last Update:

05/20/2014 - 15:20

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Think about it, he was resisting arrest, they were trying to subdue him. Whether they were right or wrong in arresting him isn't even the issue. When a police officer is placing a person under arrest they are to follow directions. The right and wrong can be sorted out later. They deal with many types of people every day. They didn't just show up there and someone else in the video seemed to be the one reporting it. If he would have just followed their instructions instead of fighting them, I really don't think any of that would have happened.

I agree the cops were wrong in their OVERUSE of physical violence..but did you all miss this guy chest butt and push the officer FIRST? Look again. Its around 1 minute 22 seconds into the tape. He resisted arrest, chest butted and then pushed the officer before the officers got violet. Too violent...I agree.... I think they should have simply made a phone call to verify if he was allowed to sleep there. They were ALL too aggressive. We need voice to know exactly WHY it went down this way.

Hmmmmmm, I wonder what would had happen if he just placed his hands behind his back, the first time, the second time, the third time, the fourth time, etc........Here's a good definition of a brutal cop, bang and pow, you're under arrest. Comply first, then complain. To resist arrest and take a fighter's stance, is never a good thing.

Sorry but he was resisting arrest. This does not justify the unprofessional take down but in this day and age u can't open ur self up to this behavior to the cops.

This what they call a "man bites dog" story.

You are welcome to show it publicly
As a former NYC Police Officer and tactical trainer the NYPD should be ashamed over the abysmal instruction they give to police officers. THere is virtually no restraint tactics training where an officer can become proficient leading them no other choice to do nothing or abuse their authority as in this case and then falsify charges against the victim. I have testified at three city, state and federal hearings on the subject matter.
Finally some in the Jewish community are waking up. Now you know what our Black and Latino brothers have being going through for the last couple of generations. Where are all the Jewish leaders who complain when Jews are attacked but not around when others are abused? In every forum I have spoken about this and testified at legislative proceedings over the last 20 years I have never met or seen any representatives from any Jewish organizations. We shouldn't have to wait until it comes to our doorstep.

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz Director Mercaz Tzedek 917-916-4681

just look at this one year ago

this is what we call in crown heights arrested for being Jewish

http://www.crownheights.info/index.php?itemid=38036

I'm not saying the officers were justified or not, but to call for the immediate firing when we, the public, actually know very little about the incident, especially since there is no sound, is just another example of how the public jumps to conclusions when they don't have all the facts. Videos like this do not alone tell the whole story. The police officer is also a human being who has spent a lot of time being trained and this is his livelihood. Officers, like all of us, are in fear of their safety. He may have felt threatened because we do not know what was being said. What may be necessary is some re-training and better communication. We tend to jump to conclusions and to over react too quickly. The officer may be totally wrong, but we do not know yet.

lets put aside the beating and talk about false charges.
why did the officers charge him with felony assault ???
that part is : offering a false instrument for filling, making an apparently sworn false statement, perjury, making a punishable false written statement, official misconduct, and falsifying business records. This latter offense is a felony. His status as a police officer has been suspended.

and people go to jail for this

This is discussing procedure what a democracy if I’m NY Major immediately I’ll clean this mess with putting all those cups on same position discussing homeless poor and hungry person, NYPD in case to rush and clear drug smuggling all round, crime everywhere they are training box come on
Once more if I’M NY Major I’ll resign shame shame shame and sad

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