The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, dropped all criminal charges on Monday against a young man whose arrest inside a Jewish community center in Brooklyn led to allegations of police brutality.
Police officers stated in a criminal complaint that the man, Ehud Halevy, 21, attacked them, causing one to suffer a sprained wrist, during an Oct. 8 encounter inside the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults on East New York Avenue in Crown Heights. Mr. Halevy was charged with a felony count of assault on police officers and a slew of other charges, including resisting arrest and criminal trespass.
But a video of the arrest, posted on the Internet last Sunday, showed two officers from the 71st Precinct repeatedly striking Mr. Halevy, and casting doubt on the officers’ version of the incident. While the video shows Mr. Halevy trying to pull away from Officer Luis A. Vega and using his arms to break free, it does not show him striking either officer.
Mr. Hynes informed Mr. Halevy’s lawyer, Norman Siegel, of his decision to drop the charges during an afternoon meeting, and issued a statement, of one sentence, announcing the dismissal of the charges.
“We are very pleased,” Mr. Siegel said. “Justice was done.”
Mr. Siegel said he had asked the district attorney to bring criminal charges against the two officers, pointing out that it was a misdemeanor for the police to make “false statements.”
“There were numerous inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the criminal complaint,” Mr. Siegel said. “Why is the complaint not accurate? That in and of itself is a Class A misdemeanor.”
Mr. Hynes did not say whether he would take any action against the officer, merely telling Mr. Siegel that the investigation was continuing, according to Mr. Siegel. Mr. Siegel also said that he would ask Commissioner Kelly to bring disciplinary charges against the officers.
The charges against Mr. Halevy are expected to be formally dropped during a court hearing Wednesday morning, Mr. Siegel said.
The surveillance video, taken by a camera in the center’s lounge, shows Officer Vega assuming a boxer’s stance and punching Mr. Halevy in the head in successive blows and his partner, Yelena Bruzzese, striking Mr. Halevy with a baton for more than two minutes.
After viewing the video last week, the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the district attorney’s office opened separate investigations. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly placed Officer Vega on restricted duty.
Officers Vega and Bruzzese were responding to a 911 call of a dispute inside the youth outreach center. The police call was made by a center volunteer who told officers that he had found Mr. Halevy sleeping naked on a couch in the lounge and that he refused to leave. The center volunteer, according to the criminal complaint, said Mr. Halevy did not have permission to sleep there.
However, in a later interview, Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, a director at the outreach center, said Mr. Halevy had been given permission to sleep at the center and had been spending nights there for about a month.
The video sparked widespread condemnation from community leaders who questioned how the officers had handled the arrest and whether the arrest should have been made to begin with.
Paul J. Browne, chief spokesman for the Police Department, declined to comment.