Tammany Hall Brawl: Police Commish Defends Officers

An update this morning on the brawl that took place outside the Tammany Hall nightclub on Orchard Street this week.  As we reported yesterday, five people arrested Tuesday night were arraigned in Criminal Court and released (without having to post bail). Gabriel Diaz, Jade Everette,  Lewis Pena and Cynthia Rosa face felony assault, felony rioting and other charges. A fifth defendant, James Ayala, faces misdemeanor charges (obstructing a governmental administration and disorderly conduct).

The CD release party for hip-hop group Smif-N-Wessun and producer Pete Rock turned ugly after police were called in to deal with a disturbance outside the club. At the courthouse yesterday, and again on MTV, event organizers and participants said this is a blatant case of police misconduct.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has released the following statement:

Police officers had every right to defend themselves against individuals assaulting them, and used appropriate force in doing so. They also protected civilians who were being pelted with bottles at the outset, as they responded to the location at the request of the club’s own security.

Five police officers were hospitalized after the melee, which was captured on videotape.  Among those arrested, Diaz suffered the worst injuries. “I got staples in my head. I got eight staples in my head and two different cuts,” he told NY1.  In the MTV interview, Pete Rock said police also struck his wife and step-daughter:

We were coming out and someone was screaming, ‘Yo, Pete, your wife, your wife.’ So I ran out to make sure they were OK and to make sure the cop would stop hitting them… My stepdaughter said the cop was hitting her leg and she jumped in the way for her mother, which is my wife, to take the hits. And then my cameraman tried to jump in front of her, to take her hits. The cop was going bananas…

Yesterday, the District Attorney’s office acknowledged that they haven’t completely pieced together what happened Tuesday evening. While numerous videotapes have surfaced online, they indicated police were canvassing the neighborhood in search of video capturing the entire ordeal. Initially, prosecutors asked for $20,000 bail, but quickly backed away from that demand.

Tammany Hall management has not responded to our requests for comment.