Police Officer Vincent Ciardello, a five-year veteran of the 72nd Precinct, was suspended, stripped of his badge and gun, and sent home after cell phone videos surfaced showing him kick a restrained suspect in the back at this year’s Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Festival.
The suspension was announced by Police Commissioner William Bratton at a Wednesday, September 17 press conference where Bratton referred to the kick as “seem[ingly] totally unprovoked” and stated that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau was investigating the incident, which took place at around 7 p.m. on September 14 near Fifth Avenue and 46th Street.
According to police, local street vendors were not responding quickly enough to orders to pack up their booths after the fair, resulting in the arrest of 22-year-old Jonathan Daza – who was the person kicked by Ciardello while handcuffed in a fetal position on the ground – his sister Cindy, 17, and four other people.
Daza, who is shown in the video to also have been punched in the head by another officer, is charged with assault, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration.
Cindy, who is seen in the video being loudly and repeatedly questioned about her age by an officer before her brother tells her not to answer his question, is charged with second degree felony assault on an officer for attempting to intervene when Daza was being surrounded.
However, many Sunset Parkers maintain that blame for the conflict rests with the police officers, who they contend should be protecting, not criminalizing, them.
“It is clear that the actions on behalf of the police have affected the community in a profound way,” wrote Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and Congressmember Nydia Velazquez to Bratton. “We find the physical aggression that is depicted in witness videos disturbing. . . It is imperative that we engage in a broader conversation with the 72nd Precinct about police-community dynamics in Sunset Park.”
A march and protest from Fifth Avenue to the 72nd Precinct stationhouse at 30th Street and Fourth Avenue is scheduled for Saturday, September 27.
A town hall between residents, local police and elected officials will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 1 inside the Sunset Park Recreation Center at 43rd Street and Seventh Avenue.