DOWNTOWN — An Occupy Wall Street protester allegedly punched by a high-ranking police officer during a Downtown demonstration says he did nothing to provoke the violent attack, except for appearing weak and flashing a look at the NYPD supervisor after the officer engaged him.
"I certainly gave him the 'queen' look, like how dare you touch me," said Felix Rivera-Pitre, 37, of Harlem, while speaking with reporters after a nearly two-hour meeting with prosecutors and his attorney, Ron Kuby, Monday at the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Rivera-Pitre, who is openly gay and HIV positive, said Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona grabbed his arm and told him to get on the sidewalk during the Oct. 14 protest in lower Manhattan. The alleged victim said he ignored the command since there was no where else to go in the crowded demonstration.
But that's no excuse for Cardona's alleged action — which was caught on tape and circulated widely online — or the cover-up story he is accused of providing after the fact, Rivera-Pitre said.
The alleged victim added that Cardona targeted him because "I look like a pansy," he said.
"If we were going to punch everyone who gives us the look we'd all be in trouble," Rivera-Pitre explained. "He should go back to his textbooks from police school."
According to Kuby, Cardona filed a report about 10 hours after the video went viral claiming that Rivera-Pitre shoved him. A subsequent video that was released shows there was no such interaction between them prior to the punch.
But despite claims by Cardona that Rivera-Pitre pushed him, the NYPD has agreed not to arrest him until the DA's office concludes its investigation, Kuby said.
"This is not simply an otherwise good man who was just having a bad day," Kuby said, noting that Cardona has exhibited "a pattern and practice of assault" in dealing with protesters.
After the roughly two-hour-long meeting with prosecutors in which the videos were played, prosecutors said they would continue to investigate the incident. Kuby said the DA's office did not indicate whether they were considering bringing charges against Cardona.
Rivera-Pitre noted that he has not been back to the protest since the incident for fear of being arrested, except for Friday when he went dressed as Robin Hood.
Kuby, a well-known civil rights attorney, is also representing another alleged protest victim, 24-year-old Kaylee Dedrick, who was seen on video showing getting pepper sprayed by Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna. There have been no updates in that case, Kuby said.
Officials from the Manhattan DA's office declined to comment on their meeting with Rivera-Pitre.