A top NYPD official on Wednesday blasted the group of migrants accused of pummelling a pair of cops in a caught-on-camera Midtown attack, calling the eight assailants “cowards” who “should be sitting on Rikers Island.”
Four of the five young men taken into custody for the Saturday night brawl outside a migrant shelter on W. 42nd St. near Seventh Ave. were released without bail — enflaming the already heated debate surrounding the city’s migrant crisis.
“You saw the video. Reprehensible,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell told reporters following the annual State of the NYPD Breakfast at Cipriani 42nd St., about five blocks from where the attack took place. “(They’re) cowards. You have eight people attacking a lieutenant and a cop, running up to them to kick them in the face.”
The two cops were trying to quell a disorderly group outside the Candler Building moments before the brawl broke out about 8:30 p.m., surveillance video released by police shows. When the two officers try to put a man in a yellow jacket under arrest, they’re suddenly attacked by multiple people from all sides.
“They were kicking and punching one of the cops,” a security guard in the area told the Daily News Tuesday. “They mobbed [the cops]. It was wild.”
“The video speaks for itself,” Chell said Wednesday. “(The officers) stayed and fought, but eight on two is hard to combat.”
Cops arrested Yorman Reveron, 24, Darwin Andres Gomez-Izquiel, 19, Wilson Juarez, 21, and Kelvin Servita Arocha, 19, at the scene. A fifth suspect, Jhoan Boada, 22, was apprehended Monday night.
All five suspects faced charges of either assault on a police officer, gang assault or attempted assault and other charges. But the four apprehended Saturday night were set free without bail after their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, Chell said.
“They should be sitting on Rikers, being indicted this week and taken off our streets,” Chell said. “You want to know why our cops are getting assaulted? There’s no consequences. We must change this. End of story.”
Three of the five arrested live in migrant shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, police said. Gomez-Izquiel is from Mississippi and Boada is homeless, according to cops.
Boada’s arraignment was pending in Manhattan Criminal Court on Wednesday.
None of the men arrested lived in the Candler Building, which the city turned into a mega-shelter for migrants in March. The men often hung out behind the building drinking and smoking, the guard said.
Both cops suffered scratches, bumps and bruises in the attack, Chell said.
The shelter at the Candler Building has capacity for hundreds of migrants and the previously vacant site has been providing food and services including health care.
The city has also begun imposing an 11 p.m. curfew at some shelters, with the mayor’s office saying the move was meant to boost health and safety. That was among many controversial policy adjustments from the Adams administration as the city has struggled to handle the new arrivals.
Meanwhile, demonstrations — both supporting and opposing the migrants — have broken out throughout the city, with immigration policy is a key issue in 2024 elections in the city and beyond.
Among a handful of violent incidents linked to migrants, six were arrested and two cops were injured in a brawl that broke out when officers confiscated scooters in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in September.
Chell said he was proud that the two officers held their ground in the fight but the release of the four suspects will just embolden others to attack police officers in the future.
“If a bad person sees what happened here (with their release) the next time they get stopped by a cop, they might have to go for it too,” Chell said.
Cops were still looking for three people responsible for the attack and released photos of the wanted men in the hopes someone recognizes them.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.