JACKSON HEIGHTS — A truck driver punched Councilman Daniel Dromm in the chest and swiped his cellphone after the pol tried to photograph his illegally parked rig in Jackson Heights, officials said.
Dromm said the dust-up highlighted some of his biggest concerns in the busy commercial area — illegal parking and traffic congestion.
The incident unfolded Wednesday afternoon when Dromm was on his way back from the City Council to his office in Jackson Heights.
After parking his car on 75th Street and 37th Avenue, the councilman said he saw a delivery truck that was double parked and blocking traffic in front of the Trade Fair supermarket on the same block.
The councilman took his phone out to snap some pictures of the 18-wheeler when the truck driver, identified by the police as 43-year old John J. Muriel, allegedly charged at Dromm.
"He charged at me, yelling 'No photographs! No photographs,'" the councilman recalled.
The driver then hit Dromm in the jaw, snatched the phone from his hand and punched the pol in his chest, according to the criminal complaint.
Dromm said that despite the police arriving on the scene, the truck driver refused to give him back his cell phone or acknowledge he had done something wrong.
The driver was arrested and charged with assault, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and harassment, according to the NYPD. Officials with the company that runs the trucks, National Farm Produce, said it had "no comment."
The councilman said he was angry at local businesses that a turn a blind eye to the law and allow their delivery trucks to park illegally.
"They don’t care about your safety," Dromm said. "It’s all illegal."
Dromm has called for greater police enforcement in the area and has asked local shop owners, especially Trade Fair supermarket, to cooperate.
As he was speaking on Thursday, another truck pulled in front of the supermarket. The councilman confronted the driver, who drove away.
"If this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody," said Dromm. "We are trying to make our community a better place in which to live and do business and we will not tolerate lawbreakers."