Locals Dispute NYPD Version Of Melee
At least one of the people arrested at the melee reported on the front page of last week's edition of The Wave as well as some witnesses to the event have come forward to say that the official New York City Police Department version is in error.
The melee, which took place on Wednesday, April 12 at Beach 86 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, ended with the arrest of eight locals and the injury of nine police officers.
According to both police sources and a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the melee, which eventually drew 75 police officers and 250 onlookers, began when police were called to a dispute involving a man with a chain.
A police officer on bike patrol was the first on the scene. Official court papers say that the officer found Raymond Brooks holding a metal chain in his hands, yelling obscenities.
Police say he drew a large crowd with his loud yelling and by swinging the chain, nearly hitting a number of the bystanders.
The report goes on to say that a backup unit was called in to assist the line bike cop, but that Brooks "Flailed his arms and kicked his legs, launching a punch at one of the police officers."
Brooks and Kevin Neal were among those who were arrested. Both were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
In addition, Brooks was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
The other six local residents who were arrested as a result of the melee were given desk appearance tickets (DAT's) and are due back in court on June 7.
Brooks and Neal are due back in court on May 10.
In a letter to The Wave, however, Hammel resident Cee Cee Williams disputed the official court papers, charging the police with "acting too paranoid" when they saw a large crowd gathering.
Williams says that a man and a woman who do not live in Rockaway were attempting to beat up Brooks' cousin and it was his cousin that had the chain.
"The woman would have been hit with the chain if Brooks hadn't snatched it out of his cousin's hand," she says. "He only had the chain when police arrived because he confiscated it from his cousin."
She adds that Brooks was "victimized twice that day, once when he was defending himself from the unidentified man and woman and again when the cops arrive and beat him before arresting him."
"The couple that started the fight are still walking around, laughing," she says. "Meanwhile, Brooks got arrested."
Nathaniel Darby was one of the men arrested, given a DAT and released.
He told The Wave that he saw police officers 'squeezing a pregnant woman towards a car." He said that he told cops, "I am not going to let you harm that woman," adding that an officer from the 101 Precinct threw him down and beat him before handcuffing and arresting him.
Williams says that Darby was protecting Brooks' pregnant sister-in-law.
Williams justifies the sister-in-law's involvement in the melee by saying, "They were beating up the baby's father, and being pregnant is an emotional time for a woman."
Williams is asking Hammel residents to bond together to "fight police harassment."
Nine police officers suffered minor injuries in the melee, including one sergeant who had injuries to his back, neck and shoulder. All were treated and released at the Peninsula Hospital Center.