In September of last year, a gang of New York police officers issued an MMA-grade beatdown on Jonathan Daza, a Sunset Park food vendor, which was recorded by a bystander and uploaded to Facebook. Five months and a handful of NYPD lies later, Daza has finally been cleared of wrongdoing.
The video opens on a group of cops confronting Daza, who allegedly refused to close his fruit stand after a street fair ended. At one point during the argument, a cop grabs Daza by the shirt seemingly unprovoked, which sets the firestorm in motion. By the end, the vendor has been tackled, punched in the face, and kicked while he's down, and a woman bystander is similarly manhandled.
Daza was charged with assault and resisting arrest—charges that were dropped after the video revealed that police and prosecutors presented falsehoods about how the fight went down. (Now is as good a time as any to remember that the NYPD wants to make resisting arrest—a charge it regularly uses to justify its own violence—into a felony.)
Police botched the criminal complaints against the Dazas and defendants Edwin Morales and Edwin Rosario by presenting the officer who testified against them as a witness to the events — even though he saw none of the actions he alleged — according to a Jan. 22 memo from the District Attorney's Office.
Similarly, a document that an assistant district attorney filled out alleges that Daza had an altercation with the testifying officer, even though the two never interacted, the memo states.
A cellphone video of the scuffle proved the officer who testified against Daza was not a witness, Heinegg said.
Why did it take so long to exonerate Daza? The video was made public just days after the altercation, but it took months to drop the charges against him. "[Prosecutors] seem to have completely ignored the video at first, although the [assistant district attorney] confirmed to me that he'd seen it," Daza's attorney told Brooklyn Paper. "It wasn't until I submitted a motion and the video to the court and the ADA's supervisors that they looked into it and came up with the memo."