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Sunset Park appalled by police beating of pregnant woman

Brooklyn Daily
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A shocking case of alleged police brutality in Sunset Park has sparked outrage in the community.

Residents and government watchdogs are fuming over videos released last week showing police apparently tackling a pregnant woman near Fifth avenue and 46th Street on Sept. 20.

“Attacking a pregnant woman — that type of arrogance is intolerable,” said Dennis Flores, founder of the police watchdog group El Grito De Sunset Park, which first released the video on Sept. 23. “What we’re seeing in these videos is an escalation of violence for minor quality-of-life crimes.”

Amezquita, who is five months pregnant, said she tried to intercede after she saw police beating her 17-year-old son as they arrested him for possessing an illegal knife. The mother of four was trying to stop the fracas when officers apparently threw her to the ground belly first and piled on top of her, the video shows. Amezquita suffered cuts and scrapes, as well as vaginal bleeding as a result of the incident, according to her lawyer.

Amezquita was handed a summons for disorderly conduct.

The disturbing video is the second to surface in as many weeks depicting police in the 72nd Precinct apparently roughing up Sunset Park residents over low-level quality-of-life offenses.

Another El Grito video posted Sept. 16 shows a cop kicking a street vendor who had been pinned to the ground by fellow officers. The police were trying to get the vendor to pack up and leave about 30 minutes after a street festival had ended when the confrontation got ugly.

Officers in both incidents are under investigation, according to police. The officer who kicked the street vendor was suspended, and the officer who cuffed Amezquita is now on desk duty, police said. That officer, however, was not being punished for taking down Amezquita — but rather got desk duty for flinging a second woman into Fifth Avenue during the same melee, the Daily News reports.

The punitive measures against the officers do not go far enough, Flores said. The group is calling on Mayor DeBlasio not only boot the two officers off the force, but also oust his top cop, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

“That, for us, is not sufficient,” he said. “We want these police officers to be fired. We want DeBlasio to fire Bratton. He’s the one that brought about the broken windows theory. The results of that are street vendors being kicked while handcuffed.”

The area’s councilman said the police department needs to take a step back and reassess how it deals with minor crimes.

“They’re going from zero to aggressive in no time,” Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) told WNYC on Sept. 26. “There’s a culture that needs to shift, and it’s not just the precinct, it’s citywide. The community wants to celebrate its police, but they can’t do that without trust.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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