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Cop Indicted After Allegedly Punching Inwood Clubgoer into Coma

By Carla Zanoni | April 25, 2012 6:52am | Updated on May 23, 2012 12:31pm

INWOOD — An NYPD officer has been indicted on charges he slugged a man in the face at an Inwood nightclub and sent him into a coma, DNAinfo has learned.

Police Officer Ariel Frias, 27, was indicted on third degree misdemeanor assault charges on April 6, three months after allegedly punching 23-year-old Edwin Veloz during a Jan. 8 melee at Mamajuana Cafe, according to the family of the victim who met with the Manhattan District Attorney's office Tuesday.

Frias is due to be arraigned on June 27 in front of Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro, court records show.

Prosecutors declined to comment or to to release the exact charges, which are are under seal until Frias' Supreme Court arraignment.

Frias has been stripped of his badge and assigned to desk duty, according to Veloz's family. He was initially charged with misdemeanor assault after he was arrested March 28, more than two months after allegedly cold-cocking Veloz in the face at the bar. 

Frias — who was at Mamajuana with a friend, Javier Delarosa — allegedly encountered Veloz and two of Veloz's cousins at the bar at approximately 3:30 a.m. Jan. 8.

The groups got into a heated war of words, and Frias was caught on security camera punching Veloz once in the head, sending him straight onto the floor, police said. 

Frias left the bar at 247 Dyckman St. without reporting the incident to police, and his face was seen on wanted posters for close to two months before Internal Affairs investigators arrested him.

He was charged with misdemeanor assault in the third degree and was released on his own recognizance, despite prosecutors' request for a $2,500 bail.

Delarosa, 26, turned himself in on Jan. 17, and was charged with misdemeanor assault. A grand jury declined to indict him, and his case has been frozen pending the result of Frias' grand jury hearing, according to court documents. Delarosa is free on $1,500 bail, court records show.

Lawyers for Frias did not immediately respond to calls for comment. Delarosa's attorney declined to speak.

According to Victor Santos, the manager at Mamajuana Café, bouncers broke up the fight, which took place inside the club, and ejected Delarosa and Frias from the restaurant.

Restaurant management then took Veloz, who had come to Mamajuana Café with a male and female cousin, to the sidewalk until the FDNY and EMS arrived.

Veloz, who spent weeks in a coma before regaining consciousness in late January, is currently making a slow recovery and still cannot walk or talk, according to his sister, Lisa Veloz.

“It’s going to be a long and slow process,” Lisa Veloz, 32, told DNAinfo, adding that he is able to consume liquids with a straw from his hospital bed at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J.

At night, Veloz has to be secured in his bed to ensure he does not fall out, due to his lack of bodily control, she said.

A portion of his skull, which was removed because of brain swelling, is scheduled to be reattached this week. 

Lisa Veloz said her family is regularly at the hospital, supporting him. 

“This is our job now, to take care of him so he can come home,” she said after spending Friday afternoon working with him as he learns to walk again.

Despite the physically and emotionally challenging recovery, Veloz said her brother, who is the youngest of three siblings, has kept his sense of humor, making silly facial gestures and smiling.  

“I was worried that his personality would change, but I don’t see that,” she said of Veloz, who previously worked as a stock boy at a community college while studying accounting.

”He is still himself,” she added.

Veloz said her family is focused on her brother’s recovery, but wants to get justice against his accused assailants.

“We just want justice to prevail,” she said.

“I want this man not to be a police officer anymore. He needs to not have a badge and not be out on the street with a gun.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story mistakenly referred to Frias' charges as felony charges.