The New York City Police Department and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office have both launched separate investigations into allegations of police brutality after reviewing video that shows two officers repeatedly beating a young man who was sleeping inside a Jewish community center in Brooklyn, officials said on Monday, according to The New York Times.
The video, posted online on Sunday night by CrownHeights.info, shows two police officers repeatedly striking the head and body of Ehud Halevy, 21, with a baton for over than two minutes.
Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, a director at the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults (ALIYA), where the incident occurred, said he was disturbed by the video and the police brutality against Halevy, who participated in the center’s program of educational, spiritual and counseling services for youths who are considered “at risk” in Crown Heights.
“It was very painful to see one of our members being treated like that,” Rabbi Feiglin said, according to The Times. “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.”
According to the criminal complaint, the two officers responded to a call of a dispute inside the outreach center about 5 a.m. When they arrived on the scene, they reportedly found Halevy “sleeping naked” on a couch inside the lounge. When Halevy was told to leave and that he did not have permission to stay there, he refused, saying he did receive permission and refused to heed police demands.
Rabbi Feiglin said in a telephone interview with The Times on Monday, that Halevy had permission to stay overnight at the center. He needed “a place to crash for a short period,” the rabbi said.
“We don’t know exactly why he called the police,” Rabbi Feiglin said, adding that Halevy had been staying in the center for about a month.
When the officers tried to handcuff Halevy, he refused, leading the police officers to repeatedly and unremittingly punch and beat the young Jewish man.
Rabbi Feiglin said one officer also used pepper spray on Halevy.
Halevy was charged with a felony count of assault on police officers and three misdemeanors: resisting arrest, obstruction and criminal trespass. He was issued violations for marijuana possession and harassment, court records show. He was jailed until Thursday, when his family posted his $1,500 cash bail or bond, Rabbi Feiglin said, according to The New York Times.
Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney, said the office had opened its own investigation on Monday.
“We are investigating the conduct of the police officers in this arrest,” he said.
“This is a new low,” said Steven Banks, attorney in chief for the Legal Aid Society, which is representing Halevy. “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.”