A New York City police officer surrendered to face criminal charges on Tuesday, over a week after he was recorded on video shoving a woman to the ground and cursing at her during a protest against police brutality, the police commissioner and law enforcement officials said.
The Brooklyn district attorney’s office plans to charge the officer, Vincent D’Andraia, with misdemeanor assault, harassment and menacing over the May 29 incident, one law enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.
Cellphone video showed him knocking the victim, Dounya Zayer, 20, to the ground and calling her a “bitch” after she asked him why he told her to get out of the street.
The expected arrest of Officer D’Andraia, who turned himself in at the 84th Precinct station house, on assault charges is highly unusual and seemed to reflect the growing political pressure on the police and prosecutors to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
Mass protests against police brutality swept the nation after the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis.
Officer D’Andraia, who has been suspended without pay, is the first city police officer in New York to face arrest over his conduct during the large protests that have sprung up every day since Mr. Floyd died on May 25.
Prosecutors are weighing criminal charges against as many as 40 other officers, law enforcement officials said, as the police, district attorneys, and lawmakers face intense pressure to change a status quo that for decades has largely allowed police officers accused of assault or other violent acts on duty to avoid serious punishment.
Police and prosecutors have said they are investigating several other instances of police using violence against protesters after they were recorded on video, and a civilian oversight agency that investigates police misconduct said it has received hundreds of complaints since the protests started.
Officer D’Andraia and another officer involved in a separate incident were suspended without pay last week after investigators concluded they had violated department policies and recommended disciplinary charges. The second officer, who has not been named publicly, was recorded snatching off a man’s mask and pepper-spraying him during a protest on May 30 in Brooklyn.
Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, which represents about 24,000 active officers, accused the mayor and top police officials of abandoning officers to “save their own skin.”
“They created the failed strategy for maintaining these demonstrations,” he said. “They sent police officers out to do the job with no support and no clear plan. They should be the ones facing this mob-rule justice.”