A New York City police officer has been charged for punching a suspect and breaking his nose, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
"The officer, Juan Perez, was arraigned on Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court, and charged with third-degree assault for the Nov. 10, 2021, encounter. He pleaded not guilty," reported Colin Moynihan. Perez denies the charges against him, according to the report.
"A prosecutor, Karl Mulloney-Radke, said in court that in 2021, Mr. Perez and his partner had responded to a report of a man who was acting erratically near Bleecker and Sullivan Streets and 'throwing water on pedestrians,'" said the report. "That man, identified by prosecutors as Borim Husenaj, briefly grappled with Officer Perez and knocked him off balance. Officer Perez landed atop Mr. Husenaj and the two became entangled. 'The defendant then struck Mr. Husenaj six times,' Mr. Mulloney-Radke said in court on Wednesday, describing the blows as 'rapid, forceful punches.' Prosecutors said that the punches knocked Mr. Husenaj unconscious for at least a minute, broke his nose and 'caused extensive swelling and bruising.'"
Reports indicate that Perez, who was off duty when he responded, radioed emergency personnel to say that Husenaj was not suffering a psychiatric episode, but that he was simply intoxicated. It turned out he was in fact suffering from a psychiatric episode as well.
It is rare for police officers to face assault charges over injuries to suspects during altercations — even police deaths often result in no charge. However, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who made national headlines for charging former President Donald Trump with business fraud, has made police accountability a priority of his office.
"While many use-of-force complaints go to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which can recommend internal discipline, the clash between Officer Perez and Mr. Husenaj was captured by police body cameras and onlookers’ videos, giving prosecutors an unusually clear view of what had transpired," said the report. "Mr. Mulloney-Radke’s account in court and a statement of facts filed by prosecutors drew upon that evidence to provide a detailed description of an encounter that turned chaotic."