NEW YORK — Two New York police officers are under investigation after they were shown on a video beating a man at a Chabad youth center in Brooklyn.
Video of the Oct. 8 incident, as captured by surveillance cameras at the center in the Crown Heights section, was posted Sunday to the Lubavitch news site CrownHeights.info and picked up by the New York Daily News and The Huffington Post. The incident took place over the Simchat Torah holiday.
The New York Times reported on Monday that NYPD Internal Affairs, as well as the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, have begun investigations into the affair. One of the officers, Luis A. Vega, has reportedly been placed on modified duty as a result of the incident.
Zlamy Trappler, 24, a volunteer security guard at the ALIYA institute, said he called the police upon discovering the man, who was shirtless and sleeping in the lounge. Trappler thought the man was drunk, the Daily News reported.
The man, identified by CrownHeights.info as Ehud Halevi, 21, is shown exchanging words with a male officer and pushing away the hands of the officer, who had taken out handcuffs. Shortly after, the cop assumes a fighting stance and takes several punches at Halevi, as he and a female officer wrestle Halevi to the couch where he was found sleeping, according to CrownHeights.info.
During the several minute incident, the female officer appears to use a truncheon and pepper spray on Halevi, the Daily News reported. Afterward, eight police officers arrive and handcuff Halevi.
Halevi has reportedly been charged with felony assault on a police officer, trespassing, resisting arrest and harassment.
Police did not respond to requests for comment Sunday night, according to the Daily News, which added that Sara Feiglin, the wife of Rabbi Moshe Feiglin, who runs the youth center, confirmed the details published by CrownHeights.info.
According to the account of Rabbi Feiglin in the New York Times, Halevi “needed a place to crash” and had requested permission to stay at the center, which was granted. Feiglin said he didn’t understand why Trappler called the police to report a trespasser, since Halevi had been staying at the center for at least a month.
“It seemed like a senseless beating and we felt compassion for this young guy being beaten like that,” Feiglin said. “We all need to have more compassion.”