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NYPD Officer Seen On Video Shoving Protester Now Charged With Assault; Others Facing Discipline

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD officer seen on video shoving a protester last month in Brooklyn has been charged with assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the charges against Officer Vincent D'Andraia on Tuesday.

"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."

Web Extra: Read The Complaint (.pdf)

D'Andraia did not enter a plea during a virtual arraignment that lasted only a few minutes on Tuesday.

He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Oct. 15.

Video posted on social media showed D'Andraia, from the 73rd precinct in Brownsville, push 20-year-old Dounya Zayer during a demonstration near Barclays Center on May 29.

Zayer said the officer knocked her phone out of her hand and when she put her arms up to protect herself, he allegedly cursed at her, called her a derogatory term and shoved her.

She said she suffered a seizure and concussion.

On Tuesday, her attorney told CBS2 they are cautiously optimistic about the arrest.

"For Dounya, the most important thing for her is that this is not a case that goes away with a slap on the wrist, a reinstatement or a docking of vacation days," Tahanie Aboushi said. "This has to be a precedent that sets the example that no one is above the law."

Zayer also said a commanding officer saw what happened and didn't intervene.

The officers' union, the Police Benevolent Association, is fighting back.

Union President Pat Lynch decried a rush to judgment against the officers patrolling protests and recent violence, where many have been attacked, themselves.

"What we're saying is we have to take all the circumstances into effect, the circumstances they were in," said Lynch. "We're asking for fairness. Review. We don't say no. Review. Criminalize it? It's absolutely wrong. It shouldn't be going on."

Lynch released a statement on behalf of the union:

Once again, Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD brass are sacrificing cops to save their own skin. They created the failed strategy for managing these demonstrations. They sent police officers out to do the job with no support and no clear plan. They should be the ones facing this mob-rule justice. We will sat it again: New York City police officers have been abandoned by our leadership. We are utterly alone in our efforts to protect our city.

The NYPD confirmed D'Andraia has been with the department for about five years and remains suspended without pay. His supervisor was transferred, as well.

Also Tuesday, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said another officer is under investigation stemming from an incident that same night in Brooklyn.

He said the officer hit a protester with the door of an unmarked police vehicle. That officer was placed on modified duty and the case has been referred for disciplinary action.

"As part of our obligation to provide accountability when officers fail to reflect the high standards we set, the NYPD is taking action regarding an episode in recent days that raises serious concerns," Shea said in a statement. "While the investigation is still ongoing, there is no doubt in my mind that based on the seriousness of what we've seen in recent days, transparency is critical."

Over the weekend, the commissioner said another officer was suspended without pay for a confrontation that was caught on camera on May 30.

Video showed the officer pull down a man's face mask and pepper spray him in the face. That case was also referred for disciplinary action.

Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on Twitter, saying "New Yorkers deserve accountability. We can't have trust between police and community without it."

Both the mayor and police commissioner have said the disciplinary process will be handled quickly and with transparency.

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