As five club-goers were arraigned Thursday in connection with a violent confrontation with police outside a Lower East Side club, the police commissioner said that officers have "every right to defend themselves against individuals assaulting them." NY1's Tetiana Anderson filed the following report.
Five people who were arrested at an album release party at a Lower East Side bar said Thursday they were released on their own recognizance because the police were the real aggressors.
Police say they were called by club security at Tammany Hall bar early Wednesday to help with overcrowding and a fight between party-goers outside. Soon after they arrived, the rumble turned into a battle with the law.
Four of the defendants -- 27-year-old Gabriel Diaz, 24-year-old Jade Everette, 35-year-old Lewis Pena and 21-year-old Cynthia Rosa -- are facing felony assault charges. A fifth defendant, 32-year-old Jessy Ayala, is facing a misdemeanor charge.
Kenneth Montgomery, the lawyer representing all five people who have been charged, said the Internal Affairs Division of the New York City Police Department is looking into what happened and investigators interviewed his clients in the hospital.
"I got staples in my head. I got eight staples in my head and two different cuts," said Diaz.
"All the officers decided to join in, jumping and falling on top of each other to mace, kick and punch," said Montgomery.
Police say five officers tried to protect themselves and received blows, a broken nose, a broken tooth and various cuts to the neck and head.
Amateur video does show police using force to make several arrests, but officers say they had no choice.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement Thursday, "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 request of the club's own security."
Tammany Hall management would not talk to NY1 about the case on- or off-camera, and the incident did not seem to have affected the club's Thursday night business.