Four Arrested In BC Halloween Melee
A Broad Channel woman, her son and two others were arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday night in connection with a Halloween egg-throwing incident that sparked a melee in which racial taunts were hurled at a black detective.
The incident started on the corner of Cross Bay Boulevard and West 10 Road at about 4:30 p.m. on Halloween when three anti-crime officers, in plainclothes and in an unmarked vehicle, were dispatched to investigate reports of eggs being thrown at passing vehicles.
A spokesperson for the police department's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information said that the unmarked car was hit with a number of eggs and that Detective Marques Stewart got out of the car and approached one of the teens throwing the eggs. While some say that Stewart never identified himself as a police officer, photographs capturing the first moments of the incident show he had his shield around his neck and his police radio in his hand.
The police say that an argument ensued and that Patrick Rich, 17, of 1237 East 14 Road, jumped on the detective's back and began hitting him. At the same time, they say, Nicholas Stack, 16, of 1401 East 14 Road, pushed Stewart and struck him in the stomach.
Stewart, who is black, responded by repeatedly striking Rich with his nightstick, according to eyewitnesses.
Margaret Glade, who is the sister of Patricia Rich, told reporters at the scene that the police overacted to a simple prank.
"[The detective] whacked the kid on the head, the kid fell on the floor and he's on the floor and he kept whacking him," she told Channel 2 reporter Lou Young. "I yelled stop, stop."
One eyewitness, who asked not to be identified, said that Patricia Rich, 44, Patrick's mother, called Stewart names while some bystanders in the crowd screamed, "Get the N____er," and threw rocks and eggs at the cops.
Another eyewitness, who asked not to be identified because she fears retribution said, "The teenagers were really rowdy, throwing eggs and shooting shaving cream at passing cars. When the detective got out of the car, there was arguing back and forth and then one kid jumped on the cop's back and the other hit him in the stomach," she said. "The cop started to beat the kid with his stick."
She added, however, that she heard no names called or racial epithets used during the incident.
Police officials said that video footage from nearby video surveillance cameras shows that the police responded appropriately to the incident.
"The video showed police establishing order with a disorderly crowd," said Deputy Chief Michael Collins said in a prepared statement. "It did not show any misconduct on [the part] of any police officers."
One officer on the scene was overheard calling a 10-13 over his radio, meaning "officer needs assistance." The tone of the officer's voice and the choppiness of the call suggested an intense struggle, and the dispatcher had difficulty understanding the location of the incident. Patrol units from all over the area eventually responded.
Rich waded into Jamaica Bay to escape the police who were chasing him, but was quickly corralled and arrested.
His mother, Patricia, Robert Glade, 22, of 1849 West 5 Road, and Stack were arrested as well.
The incident in Broad Channel is not the first time a member of the Rich family has encountered the law or tragedy. In November of 2002, Rich's middle son, John, then 15 years of age, was stabbed repeatedly outside a Broad Channel bar and restaurant by Nichols Manucci, the Howard Beach resident recently convicted of a bias-related beating. Before he could testify, however, Rich died beneath the wheels of an A Train in Rockaway in December of 2003.
A spokesperson for District Attorney Richard Brown told The Wave that Patrick Rich was held in lieu of $3,500 bail, $1,000 of which is related to his failure to appear for a court hearing on a St. Patrick's Day assault case. He is charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, riot in the second degree, inciting to riot, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
In the St. Patrick's Day arrest, Rich was charged with assault and harassment for punching another man, John Eastzer repeatedly in the face, causing him to be taken to the hospital for treatment.
Robert Glade, who allegedly yelled the racial epithets in an attempt to incite the crowd, was freed on $1,000 bail. He is charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, riot in the second degree, inciting to riot, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
Stack, who is accused of punching Stewart, was released on his own recognizance. He is charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Patricia Rich, who was charged with interfering with her son's arrest, was also released on her own recognizance. She is charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
All are to appear at hearings on November 13.
The spokesperson said that the case is still being investigated and that there is a chance that all of the charges would be upgraded.