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Charges Dropped Against Sunset Park Vendor Kicked by NYPD Officer, DA Says

By Nikhita Venugopal | February 16, 2015 2:18pm
72nd Precinct: Facebook Video
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SUNSET PARK — Charges have been dropped against a Sunset Park street vendor who was kicked in the back by a NYPD officer after prosecutors admitted police gave differing accounts of the melee that was caught on video, his lawyer and court officials said.

Jonathan Daza, 22, was arrested on Sept. 14 during an altercation with police at the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Street Festival that broke out after officers told him and his family to pack up a table where they were selling fruit. 

Daza was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment after Officer Carlos Irizarry attempted to handcuff the vendor because of his “combativeness," according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's motion filed on Nov. 18.

 Jonathan Daza, 22, spoke to reporters Wednesday night in front of his Sunset Park home. Daza was kicked in the back by a police officer on Sunday during a street fair. The officer was later suspended for the act, the NYPD said.
Jonathan Daza
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Prosecutors stated that Daza intervened and began to “clench his fists and yell and scream” at the officers, even as Daza's attorney said the DA’s filing had several “fictitious” and “fraudulent accusations.”

But in a Jan. 22 memo, the prosecutors said they discovered Irizarry did not interact with Daza initially and that the actual eyewitness, Sgt. Frank Rodriguez, did not see any of that behavior.

While prosecutors previously stated Daza started "screaming and yelling... got into [an arresting officer's] face," the memo stated that "Rodriguez never alleges that Jonathan Daza did any of those things."

Daza's lawyer, Rebecca Heinegg, who submitted a motion to dismiss the charges last December using the cellphone video as evidence, said her client did not act hostile but only verbally intervened when officers started questioning his younger sister.

“It’s rare to find a video that’s so completely on point,” Heinegg told DNAinfo New York.

The charges against Daza were dropped during his last court date on Jan. 22, Heinegg said.

The story was first reported by the Brooklyn Paper.

During Daza's Sept. 14 arrest, he was kicked in the back by police officer Vincent Ciardiello — an attack that NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called “totally unprovoked.”

The Daza family was selling fresh-cut fruit when police officers told them they had five minutes to pack up their table and leave that evening. 

The confrontation quickly escalated when a group of officers approached Daza and began to question him before slamming him on the ground, according to the video.

It then shows Ciardiello — who was suspended for 30 days as a result of incident — kicking Daza in the back while he was pinned down.

Prosecutors had also initially brought charges against Daza’s sister, Cindy, for assaulting a police officer, but the DA had actually meant to charge their second sister, Wendy, according to Heinegg. Both of them were arrested during the Sept. 14 incident.

It was not immediately clear how the mixup occurred. Heinegg said the charges against both sisters would be dropped at the next court date. 

The Brooklyn DA's office did not immediately respond to additional inquiries.