A New York Police Department officer who was caught on camera throwing a woman protester to the ground has been charged with third-degree assault, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
Vincent D’Andraia, 28, is the first member of the NYPD to face criminal charges as a result of actions taken against people protesting police brutality. The NYC police force has been called out for its violence against peaceful demonstrators over the past two weeks.
During a protest in Brooklyn on May 29, Newsweek reporter Jason Lemon filmed D'Andraia violently shoving a woman protester and calling her a "stupid fucking bitch." Later that night, Dounya Zayer, 20, identified herself as the woman in the video and revealed that she had been taken to the hospital via ambulance as a result of her injuries.
The video, which has been viewed more than 14 million times, caused the NYPD to launch an investigation into D'Andraia's conduct, and he was suspended without pay last week.
D'Andraia has also been charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree harassment, and third-degree menacing.
In a series of videos and tweets posted from the hospital, Zayer said D’Andraia had not given her a warning before shoving her with both hands, causing her to fly across the street and into a curb.
She said she had been peacefully protesting when D’Andraia approached her and told her to get out of the street. She asked him why as she started moving backward, and he responded by pushing her to the ground.
She also posted a video that she said she had been taking immediately before D’Andraia pushed her that clearly shows his face and the face of another officer accompanying him, who was later identified as Deputy Inspector Craig Edelman.
Her lawyer, Tahanie Aboushi, said that as a result of the attack Zayer suffered "serious, significant, and permanent injuries," among them seizures, a concussion, bruising, and lacerations.
A video of the shove from another angle shows other protesters running to help Zayer and reveals that she was pushed so hard that one of shoes had flown off her foot.
Neither D’Andraia nor Edelman stopped to check on Zayer's injuries. Edelman was removed from command and transferred to another department earlier this week.
In a statement announcing the charges against the NYPD officer on Tuesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he was "deeply troubled by this unnecessary assault."
“I fully support the long-held American tradition of non-violent protest. As District Attorney I cannot tolerate the use of excessive force against anyone exercising this Constitutionally guaranteed right. This is especially true of those who are sworn to protect us and uphold the law."
Zayer's lawyer Aboushi said she commended the district attorney for "acting swiftly to hold [D’Andraia] accountable" but added that "justice remains to be seen." She also expressed concern that Edelman has not yet been accountable for his failure to intervene.
"We have the right to assemble and speak freely. Officer D’Andraia assaulted Dounya who was peacefully protesting the very thing that happened to her — police brutality."