Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dubious Charges in the Boro Park Riots

After the so-called Boro Park riots, Mayor Bloomberg accused the crowd of "putting people's lives at risk" though it is not clear in what way or how. To bolster their account of a real threat from the protesting Chassidim, two men were charged with assaulting police officers, Chaim Glick and Chaim Appel.

Chaim Appel's list of charges is truly massive. He is charged with two counts of attempted assault - one a felony - menacing, obstructing governmental administration, two counts of disorderly conduct, and one count of harassment. But as AnotherRuth of Hashemsforever has pointed out, all but the 'obstruction of government administration' charge which is a standard 'refusing to comply with police orders promptly' charge often used to arrest protesters were added at the arraignment. This is very strange since the supposed assault occured on the scene against a Sergeant. Under those circumstances it's hard to imagine why additional charges were only added during the arraignment unless they were being tacked on to create the illusion of a serious incident.

According to the DA's office the claim is that Chaim Appel 'kicked a sergeant in the leg in an attempt to trip him,' this is a confusing description at best. The DA's office admits the Sergeant was not hurt. Yet Appel was not charged with this until the arraignment itself. And the arraignment charges seen in this light are absurd.

Two charges of Attempted Assault with Intent to Cause Physical Injury, Violent Behavior and Harrassment. If there were such horrific charges to make against him why was the only charge that the police actually arrested him on was Obstruction, a charge that is further clarified when the arraignment tacks on the real charge of Refusing to Move.

It's easily imaginable that in a surging crowd a man might have stumbled against a police officer. This man may or may not have been Chaim Appel, because had it been Mr. Appel, it seems likely that the police would have known what to charge him with. Later on when the police were asked to tote up anything that might lead to some kind of charges, the Sergeant managed to recall his foot colliding with someone in the crowd and the charge was tacked on to one of the men who had been already arrested because odds are against the NYPD being able to tell one Chassid from another or caring to do so.

And so the justice system grinds on.


Keliata said...

Yes. The scenario painted by the police department is pretty shady.

I see a couple of outcomes in the criminal case against Mr. Appel. Either the city (in light of the allegations that a top police official used racial slurs against the protestors)will decide to drop the charges "in the interests of justice" or Mr. Appel will get an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of a Dismissal)and the felony charge will be dropped. Basically, he'll just have to keep out of trouble for either 6 months or a year and the charges are completely dismissed and the file closed, as if he had never been arrested.

Of course, that doesn't change the damage to his reputation if he has been wrongly accused. You can't unring a bell afterall.

The DA might also dismiss the sole felony count and have Mr. Appel pled to a reduced misdemeanor.

In my city, the district attorney's office usually will drop charges in a case like this, in the interests of justice, where there is considerable controversy and as a typical politico, he doesn't want to anger cops and the PBA that endoreses him, or anger any potential voters.

Instead of admitting that the arrest was wrong the DA will use the "interests of justice" terminology.

As an aside, I checked out a NYC police blog and the anti-Semitic comments are sickening.

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