A Brooklyn judge formally dismissed charges Wednesday against a 21-year-old man whose rough arrest inside a Brooklyn Jewish youth center was caught on tape and has renewed calls for better oversight by the department. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Appearing still shocked over all the attention, Ehud Halevy said Wednesday he never laid a finger on two police officers who confronted him inside a Jewish community center.
Surveillance video shows Luis Vega, one of the officers, landing several punches to the 21-year-old's head and body.
"He told me to leave. I told him I have the right and permission to stay where I am," Halevy said. "He wouldn't listen. I swore at him. He tried handcuffing me. I pulled my arm away. Then he started beating me up."
Halevy was hit with charges that included assault of officers, resisting arrest and trespassing, based on the criminal complaint filed by the officers. But a judge tossed out all charges after the Brooklyn District Attorney's office said it couldn't successfully prosecute after looking at the video and all of the evidence.
"But for this video, this young man would be facing seven years in jail," said defense attorney Earl Ward. "Seven years. And so we are very grateful and thankful."
Another problem for the case was that Halevy wasn't trespassing at the community center. Staffers say he was given the OK to be there and had been sleeping on the couch for weeks.
However, on Oct. 8, another member called police because he said the 21-year-old was sleeping naked.
"He was also trying to do the right thing," said Rabbi Moishe Feiglin of the Aliya Youth Center. "So we have to look forward now, not blaming people but trying to make sure these things can't happen again."
Halevy's lawyers said the officers involved should be disciplined by the NYPD. They also said the officers should be brought up on criminal charges.
"We have asked the DA to continue the investigation, focusing on the conduct of the two officers," said defense attorney Norman Siegel.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the video clearly shows the cops lied.
"A police officer with a number of years on the police force committed perjury because Ehud never struck the police officer," Hikind said. "It is so crystal clear."
Officer Vega remains on modified duty. Halevy wouldn't say if he thinks the officer should be fired.