Video After The Jump
The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating two police officers, Luis A. Vega and Yelena Bruzzese, of the 71st Precinct, following the release of a video showing the two officers brutally attacking Ehud Halevi at the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults in Brooklyn, New York.
Vega and Bruzzese responded to a 911 call of a dispute inside the outreach center about 5 a.m. The call was made by Zlamy Trappler, a center volunteer, who performs security checks in the building. Trappler made the call after he found Halevi sleeping naked on a couch. Thinking Halevi was drunk, Trappler ordered him to get dressed and leave, telling him he did not have a right to be there according to CrownHeights.info.
When Vega and Bruzzese arrived they found Halevi asleep on a couch. They woke him and he stands up, wearing a pair of sweat pants. The officers start having a conversation with him.
The officers say they told Halevi to leave or he would be arrested for trespassing. They claim he responded by saying, “Go ahead and try it. I am going to hit you.”
At one point the officers try to handcuff Halevi, who jerks his arms away and puts them behind his back.
Officer Vega then assumes a boxing stance and starts punching Halevi to the face. After Halevi falls down the beating continues. While Vega punches Halevi, officer Bruzzese repeatedly strikes him with a baton. The beating lasts about two minutes.
About 10 additional officers arrive to help subdue and handcuff Halevi.
Rabbi Feiglin told CrownHeights.info in a telephone interview on Monday that Halevi had permission to stay at the center and had been doing so for about a month.
Halevy participated in the center’s program of educational, spiritual and counseling services for youths who are considered “at risk.”
“It was very painful to see one of our members being treated like that,” Rabbi Feiglin said. “It seemed like a senseless beating and we felt compassion for this young guy being beaten like that. We all need to have more compassion.”
The Rabbi added that he didn’t know why Trappler called the police. Trappler said he regretted doing so afterwards.
“I regret making the call. I should have let him sleep. It spiraled out of control,” Trappler said according to The Huffington Post.
According to the criminal complaint, the officers claim Halevi attacked them, causing Vega to suffer a sprained wrist, bruising and swelling.
Halevi was charged with assault, trespass, marijuana possession and other counts. He was released on a $1,500 bail last week.
“By my count, one officer punched the victim over 20 times after he was already subdued,” said Council member David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn). “That’s insane.”
Greenfield wants the two cops to be fired.
“This is a new low,” said Steven Banks, Halevy’s attorney said. “You have to wonder when this is going to end. This is yet another instance of over-policing in which a situation could have been addressed without an arrest, let alone the use of force. This is yet another instance of the Police Department acting outside the bounds of what any reasonable person would think was appropriate.”
Internal Affairs has referred the matter to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, said a police spokesman. Vega has been placed on desk duty, while Bruzzese has not.