The NYPD officer seen in a now-viral video shoving a 20-year-old woman to the ground during a Black Lives Matter protest in Brooklyn was charged with four counts Tuesday in an incident the district attorney called an “unnecessary assault.”
Officer Vincent D’Andraia turned himself in to authorities and was charged with assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.
“I fully support the long-held American tradition of non-violent protest. As District Attorney I cannot tolerate the use of excessive force against anyone exercising this Constitutionally guaranteed right,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
“This is especially true of those who are sworn to protect us and uphold the law. I am deeply troubled by this unnecessary assault. We will now seek to hold this defendant accountable.”
In this June 6, 2020, file photo, protesters march in New York. Since Floyd’s killing, police departments have banned chokeholds, Confederate monuments have fallen and officers have been arrested and charged. The moves come amid a massive, nationwide outcry against violence by police and racism. (AP Photo/Ragan Clark, File)
The 28-year-old officer — who was suspended without pay following the incident — will be arraigned in the Brooklyn Criminal Court later Tuesday.
The incident unfolded near the Barclays Center on May 29, as hundreds of demonstrators marched demanding justice for George Floyd — an unarmed black man who died in police custody after a now-fired Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
According to an internal investigation, D’Andraia was assigned to monitor the crowd at the protest, and asked the victim, Dounya Zayer, to get out of the street.
When Zayer asked why, D’Andraia allegedly smacked her cellphone out of her hand and violently shoved her to the ground, the district attorney said.
Cellphone footage of the incident showed Zayer rolling on the street and into the curb while D’Andraia and other officers walked away. The commanding officer, who was on the scene, later resigned.
The NYPD called the incident “disturbing and runs counter to the principles of NYPD training as well as our mission of public safety.”
A protester is arrested by NYPD officers for violating curfew beside the iconic Plaza Hotel on 59th Street, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
“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 keep all New Yorkers safe,” the department said in a statement on Friday.
Despite a majority of peaceful protests throughout the country, pockets of violence erupted in the last two weeks in New York City, resulting in sparring between law enforcement and protesters as well as an uptick in looting, rioting and other criminal activities.
Police union president Patrick Lynch lambasted the district attorney’s office for failing to prosecute criminals in the city, but instead levying charges against an officer who was “put in a bad situation during a chaotic time.”
Lynch also said the mayor and police leaders were “sacrificing cops to save their own skin” by sending officers out to protests with “no support and no clear plan.”
Meanwhile, protesters and community activists continue to decry the use of excessive force by officers throughout the city, particularly against blacks and Hispanics, only stoking vitriol against law enforcement.