BROOKLYN — An NYPD officer who whacked an accused fare beater in the head with his baton has been home on paid sick leave with an injured wrist since the encounter, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Officer Evans Mazile was seen on a viral video bashing Donovan Lawson, 20, across the forehead inside the Myrtle Avenue station on the Bed-Stuy-Bushwick border, sending him stumbling in a daze with blood spraying onto witnesses nearby.
The encounter apparently left the officer with an injured wrist, and he's been away from work — with pay — since the Nov. 20 clash.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is probing the incident and weighing whether to present evidence to a grand jury to determine if a crime was committed.
“The question is whether [Lawson's] resistance warranted a strike to the head or the officer's actions [were] too much,” a law enforcement source explained.
Police sources claim this incident is another example of how a simple arrest can turn violent when a suspect refuses to be handcuffed, even for a minor offense.
The incident began around 7:50 p.m. when Lawson slipped through a turnstile “doubled up” with his 15-year-old girlfriend, who used her high school MetroCard, sources said.
Mazile, a six-year veteran, was on patrol positioned behind a token booth watching for fare beaters. Authorities say he quickly approached the couple, and asked for identification.
The young girl, whose name was withheld, produced proper ID, but Lawson said he had none, sources said.
Mazile told Lawson he would have to arrest him, but Lawson told him he was on parole for robbery and didn't want to be arrested, sources said.
Lawson’s girlfriend tried to coax him to “be calm,” sources said, but Mazile apparently became frustrated, and grabbed Donovan and ordered him to sit down.
He refused, sources said.
That's when Mazile allegedly became aggressive.
"Witnesses said he apparently did not like the way he was being spoken to,” the law enforcement said.
Mazile punched Lawson several times in the face and even tried to overwhelm him by spraying him in mace, but Lawson blocked it with his hands, sources said.
Then Mazile pulled out his baton, slamming Lawson on the head with enough force that the sound of the blow was clearly recorded by several shocked straphangers.
After other officers arrived, Mazile and Lawson were both taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Mazile has been out of work since the incident. Lawson, however, has been held on Rikers Island.
In addition to being charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration and theft in the subway incident, Lawson is on parole for a Feb. 4, 2013 robbery in Brooklyn where he repeatedly punched and pulled a BB gun on a victim before stealing cash and an iPhone, according to court records.
Lawson spent 18 months in prison and was paroled Oct. 10. His parole was scheduled to end Jan. 27, 2015.
He appeared Monday in court, and said he would go to trial rather than accept an offer of pleading guilty to a trespassing violation, and receiving an ACD, Acquittal in Contemplation of Dismissal.
A Thompson spokesperson declined comment. The NYPD and the police union did not comment.
Mazile has eight previous Civilian Complaints against him, mostly for verbal abuse, but a couple of complaints alleged excessive force, including hitting a suspect in the head, records showed.
Seven of the cases, however, were not substantiated, primarily because the complainants failed to follow up, sources said.
In the eighth case, Mazile was completely cleared of any wrongdoing.
Sources say this encounter also highlights why Commissioner Bill Bratton is focusing developing new training methods to get officers to de-escalate situations before they turn violent.