Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Community Rallies Behind Man Shown Being Beaten By Police On Tape

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A community rallied Friday behind a man who was caught on tape being beaten by police at a Jewish community center. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Members of the Jewish community in Crown Heights marched to the 71st Precinct Friday, demanding two of its officers be fired.

They're outraged over the treatment and arrest of Ehud Halevy.

Video captured one of the officers, Luis Vega, putting up his fists and punching the 21-year-old several times inside a youth center.

Police say they were called to the center by the security guard, who said Halevy was sleeping naked. By the time police arrived, they say he had on pants. The criminal complaint says officers were told the man was sleeping in a section designated for women but the center's rabbi, Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, says there's no such section and the 21-year-old was allowed to be there.

"At 5 a.m., it is not a women's side," Feiglin said. "At 5 a.m., it is a lounge, a place for people who need a place to sleep, to crash for the night."

The 21-year-old wasn't at the rally. His lawyers say it wouldn't be wise for him to show up because he is still facing serious charges, including assaulting police officers and resisting arrest.

"The arrest was for trespass and he he wasn't trespassing,"said Norman Siegel, Halevy's attorney. "You can't be resisting arrest."

Halevy's attorneys say the video doesn't show the man hitting police. They're urging the Brooklyn District Attorney to drop all the charges.

Internal affairs is looking into the incident.

"It is disturbing," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "We are doing an investigation. The officer has been placed on modified assignment."

Elected officials say most officers are doing a good job but this case shows that some abuse their power.

"Thinking that he was getting into a boxing ring, literally lining himself up, lining up the victim," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind. "It was just unbelievable. That picture is in my head."

"So it doesn't matter if a young person is wearing a yarmulke or a Yankee baseball cap," said State Sen. Eric Adams. "Police need to treat them with dignity and respect."

The Civilian Complaint Review Board is also investigating.

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