Eight Arrested, Nine Cops Hurt In Melee
Eight people were arrested and several police officers were injured Wednesday evening when a melee, which drew a crowd of about 200 onlookers, broke out near the Hammel Houses, police and witnesses said.
The melee began when a police officer on bicycle patrol responded to a call of a man with a weapon in a dispute with another person at the Dayton Plaza Shopping Center at Beach 84 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Witnesses said the men were involved in a fight that started between two young women and quickly escalated.
When the officer arrived, he was surrounded by a large, disorderly crowd, police say. He called for a backup unit, which quickly responded. The three cops tried to arrest the man, later identified by the police as Raymond Brookes, 25, who was carrying a chain in his hands.
According to police reports, the crowd tried to stop the three cops from arresting Brookes and the melee ensued.
Patrol officers and supervisors from all over the Rockaways responded to the call. Cars from the 100 Precinct, the 101 Precinct, housing and Transit District 23 littered the streets, closing off Rockaway Beach Boulevard for several blocks.
A Level I Mobilization was called and cops from all over Queens Southern Brooklyn responded, adding to the police presence.
Arrested were Brookes, Kevin Neal, 22, Karreem Hines, 23, Tashon Spurgeon, 27, Devine McKnight, 24, Robert Lee, 24, Nathanial Darby, 50, and Kenya Williams, 26.
Nine police suffered minor injuries, including a sergeant who had injuries to his neck, back and shoulder. All of the officers were treated at the Peninsula Hospital Center and released.
About 75 police officers and 200 civilians were at the scene at the height of the action.
Darby, who delivers newspapers including The Wave, said that the melee began when the officer on the bike ran Brookes over while trying to break up the fight.
"The cop ran Raymond over and he pushed back," said Darby.
Darby saw that Brookes had a chain in his hand, but said that he handed it to somebody else when the police arrived on the scene.
Brookes "was trying to stop the fight," according to Darby, who said he got involved when he saw police "squeezing" a pregnant woman towards a police car.
"I'm not going to let you hurt that woman," he says that he told police. Then, he said, a police officer from the 101 Precinct threw him down, beat him and handcuffed him very tightly.
"They kicked me when I was down," he said.
A spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told The Wave on Thursday morning that those arrested had not yet been arraigned, but that Neal, Brookes and Hines were being charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. They are due back in court on June 7.
Spurgeon was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
McKnight, Lee, Darby and Williams were given desk appearance tickets and released.