A confrontation with New York police that was caught on video last week has Jewish community leaders in New York City outraged.
Responding to an anonymous tip about a potentially homeless man sleeping inside The Aliya Institute, two police officers confronted Ehud H. Halevy on Monday, October 8, and demanded to know what he was doing there. Shirtless and unkempt, he appeared on surveillance video seemingly confused as to why police were demanding he justify his presence and attempting to escort him outside.
When the officers attempted to force his exit from the building, ignoring his claims that he was allowed to be there, Halevy resisted. That's when one of the officers flew into a rage, putting his fists up like a boxer and launching a flurry of punches.
As the video rolled, Halevy sustained repeated blows from the male officer while a female officer stood by hitting him with a club, then pepper-spraying him. Finally, an upwards of 10 officers ran into the building to ensure the man could not resist any further, and he was taken away.
Video of the incident was released Sunday by the New York blog Crown Heights Info. Appearing at a press conference on Monday evening, Aliya Institute director Rabbi Moshe Feigli demanded that the New York Police Department identify the offending officers and fire them immediately.
"This person had permission to be there," Feigli said during Monday's press conference. "Regardless, the behavior of the police department -- of two individuals -- is beyond comprehension. A very sad moment for me personally. I'm a great supporter of the New York City Police Department, and I continue to be a great supporter, but this behavior is unconscionable, and if not for the video camera to record what happened, we might actually believe that Ehud attacked the police officers, and he never did. He's charged with felonies, he's charged with all kinds of crimes, and now I wonder how many other times New Yorkers are charged with serious crimes and there's no video camera to tell the story."
Halevy faces charges relating to assault on a police officer, trespassing and resisting arrest, among others.
This video was published to YouTube on Sunday, October 14, 2012.
This video was published to YouTube on Monday, October 15, 2012.