Editor's note: This story is from Jan. 31, 2024 and police have since arrested additional suspects.
Police are asking for the public's help identifying men they say were part of a group of 12 that attacked two officers on Saturday night.
Surveillance video provided by the NYPD shows the front of a migrant shelter at 220 West 42nd St. Police said officers were trying to disperse a disorderly crowd when the two officers were assaulted.
A second clip then shows officers apparently trying to take someone into custody when police say the officers were attacked by a group of men.
"You have eight people attacking a lieutenant and a cop, running up to them, trying to kick them in their face," NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said.
According to an NYPD source, a lieutenant suffered a laceration to his face while he and an officer from the Midtown South precinct were kicked and punched in the head and body.
"You want to know why our cops are getting assaulted? There's no consequences, and we must change this. End of story," Chell said.
Police arrested five men, but are looking for seven more.
The NYPD says those arrested were:
- A 19-year-old from Mississippi
- A 19-year-old from a migrant shelter in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn
- A 21-year-old from a migrant shelter in Queens
- A 24-year-old from a migrant shelter on Jefferson Street in Brooklyn
- A 22-year-old
Sources say only one has prior arrests for two shoplifting incidents where he allegedly fought with security personnel.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office said four of the five suspects were released with no bail, charged with assault on a police officer, gang assault, obstructing governmental administration, and disorderly conduct. The fifth is awaiting arraignment.
A spokesperson for the DA's office said it requested ROR and supervised release because this is still an ongoing investigation.
"Violence against police officers is never acceptable. It is paramount that we conclusively identified each defendant and specify each participant's role in the incident. Every defendant charged so far is facing felony charges that carry a penalty of up to seven years. This is an active, ongoing investigation. If anyone has additional information, please call 212-335-9040," the spokesperson said.
The PBA president expressed his outrage in a post on X, writing, in part, "Attacks on police officers are becoming an epidemic and the reason is a revolving door we're seeing in cases like this one."
Councilman Justin Brannan wrote, "We can't have this in our city. If the people sworn to protect us aren't safe, then nobody is safe."
"They're trying to figure out exactly who did what, and so they're being smart about making sure that they look at all the evidence," said Professor Anna Cominsky, with New York Law School.
As the NYPD continues to search for seven additional suspects, Gov. Kathy Hochul was asked to weigh in.
"These are law enforcement officers who should never under any circumstances be subjected to physical assault. It's wrong on all accounts and I'm looking to judges and prosecutors to do the right thing," she said.
She was also asked if they should be deported.
"I think that's absolutely something that should be looked at. I mean, if someone commits a crime against a police officer in the state of New York and ... they're not here legally, definitely worth checking into," she said.
"If they're convicted, immigration then has the option of pursuing a prosecution and deportation if they wanted to," said immigration lawyer and law professor Michael Wildes.
The DA says they face up to seven years in prison. The second-degree assault charge is a felony.
The DA also says they are still collecting new video and interviewing witnesses as we speak, so additional charges are possible. Once they identify who played what role in the attack, additional charges could be coming at their next court date.
for more features.