An NYPD officer who was caught on video violently pushing a protester to the ground last month was hit Tuesday with several criminal charges, including assault. He is the first NYPD officer to be charged for his conduct during the city's ongoing wave of protests for police reform.
Vincent D'Andraia, who has been in the NYPD for five years, is charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing, the Brooklyn district attorney's office said. The 28-year-old cop was suspended without pay after videos posted on Twitter showed him shoving a woman at a Brooklyn protest on May 29.
"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," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric 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."
Videos appeared to show D'Andraia knocking over Dounya Zayer, a 20-year-old protester, at a demonstration outside the Barclays Center. Zayer said that the officer threw her cellphone and pushed her, even though she was already backing up.
Zayer said she suffered concussions and seizures after her fall. She posted videos from her hospital bed saying that she was never aggressive to the officer.
D'Andraia's supervisor was reassigned after the incident.
The union representing D'Andraia — the Police Benevolent Association — told The Associated Press that the mayor and police leaders were sending officers out to protests with "no support and no clear plan."
"They should be the ones facing this mob-rule justice," union president Pat Lynch said in a statement. "We will say it again: New York City police officers have been abandoned by our leadership. We are utterly alone in our efforts to protect our city."
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced last week that another officer has been suspended without pay after pulling down a protester's mask and pepper spraying him on May 30,involving officers are being investigated.