More Than 100,000 People Signed Petition Supporting NYPD Punching Bag Ehud Halevy
The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office yesterday dismissed all charges -- including one of assaulting a police officer -- against a Crown Heights man who was beat up by an NYPD officer earlier this month. It did so, however, only after more than 100,000 people signed an online petition calling for the charges to be dropped, the Voice has learned.
Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, the rabbi at the Aliya center where the beating occurred, started a petition on Change.org calling for the charges against Ehud Halevy to be dropped.
In his petition, Feiglin explains that his congregation gave Halevy -- who currently is homeless -- permission to sleep on a couch at the synagogue. The only reason police were hassling Halevy in the first place is because they thought he was trespassing by sleeping on the couch.
According to Feiglin, at no point prior to the beating did officers try to find out whether Halevy actually was trespassing -- even though Halevy explained that he had permission to be there.
Then, after Halevy tried to explain that he had permission, the cops started beating him. He then spent four days in jail.
The Aliya (Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults) Congregation is a spiritual center for at risk youth. We gave Ehud Halevy, a member of our congregation who is currently homeless, full permission to sleep at the center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. But on October 8, Ehud was aggressively woken up from his sleep in the middle of the night, wrongly accused of trespassing, then repeatedly and violently attacked by two police officers. The brutal attack was all caught on video and shows the officers continuing to beat Ehud despite his lack of resistance. Ehud told the police he had permission to be there but at no point before the beating took place did the police try to contact anyone from the center.
After being severely beaten and pepper sprayed by the officers, Ehud was arrested, held for four days, and charged with a felony count of assault on police officers and three misdemeanors: resisting arrest, obstruction and criminal trespass. The full attack was caught on security camera and clearly shows that it does not match the police report filed by the police officers which said that Mr. Halevy was swinging his fists and striking police. We believe the police fabricated the police report that they submitted and have failed to publicly acknowledge what really happened that night.
Of the two officers involved, Luis Vega and Yelena Bruzzese, only Vega has been slightly reprimanded. He was placed on desk duty and had his gun taken away. This is not an adequate response from the New York City Police Department and doesnt even begin to justify the abuse that Ehud has undergone.
A foundation of our moral and belief system is that we are all created in the image of God and must all adhere to the "7 Noahite laws" regardless of race or religion to ensure we live in a safe and law abiding society. These 7 laws are do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery believe in one God, do not blaspheme Gods name, do not be cruel to animals and to establish a system of justice.
We want members of our youth center to feel like they are coming to a safe haven and a place they can call home and be protected and that trust was lost. We are calling on the Brooklyn District Attorney to drop all charges against Ehud immediately, he has suffered enough.
The Brooklyn D.A.'s Office didn't immediately respond when asked whether the petition had anything to do with its decision to drop the charges against Halevy (UPDATE: Brooklyn District Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Schmetterer says the petition played no role in the D.A.'s decision to drop the charges. The decision was "made on the basis of the evidence," he says).
The D.A. told the Voice yesterday that no decision has been made about whether to charge any of the officers involved in the beating with crimes, noting that the case is still being investigated.
Regardless, Halevy is off the hook.
"Thank you to everyone who signed our petition on Change.org," Rabbi Feiglin says. "Each signature truly helped to make this a reality. I hope this sends a message that we should continue increasing our acts of goodness, kindness and justice."