NEW YORK — A man is accused of sucker punching a New York City police officer on video as the officer assisted Tuesday with a robbery arrest.
Nelson Jimenez, 31, is charged with assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration, amid other charges, according to the New York Daily News.
The incident occurred around 5 p.m. Thursday in the Bronx, where officers from the 52nd Precinct were taking into custody a man wanted for a February robbery, the Daily News reported.
A 27-second cellphone video of the arrest shows two officers struggling to handcuff a man on the ground. A bystander, identified by police as Jimenez, can be seen stepping behind one of the officers.
Jimenez wore a baseball cap, sunglasses and a surgical mask as an apparent attempt to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
In the video, the masked man steps away from the skirmish for a few moments before again stepping behind the officer and punching him in the back of the head. The blow was hard enough to knock the officer’s knit cap off his head.
The assailant throws another punch before stepping back from the officer, who by this time has pulled a yellow Taser from his belt, the video shows. The assailant is last seen in the video running down the street to a nearby bodega, where the Daily News reported he was taken into custody.
He kicked the already-assaulted officer in the groin and thigh before being subdued, the newspaper said.
“He ran, we caught him (and) charges are pending,” police officials said in a tweet accompanying the video Tuesday evening.
Authorities said detectives are working “hand-in-hand” with Bronx prosecutors to hold Jimenez accountable for the unprovoked attack.
“The NYPD has kept NYers safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with historic amounts of cops going sick,” the tweet from the department said. “We won't tolerate this kind of disrespect.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 2,000 uniformed NYPD officers have tested positive for COVID-19, as have 338 civilian employees. About 20% of the department’s workforce was out sick Wednesday.
A total of 12 civilian employees and one uniformed officer have died of the virus since March 26.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday’s attack went beyond disrespect.
“This is premeditated assault on a uniformed police officer, your police officer,” Shea tweeted Wednesday morning. “Disturbing on many levels, what he should now receive is a conviction for a Class D felony and a lengthy sentence in state prison. Period.”
The Daily News reported that Jimenez’s alleged assault on the officer did not stop the arrest of the suspected robber, identified by the newspaper as 27-year-old Yoemdy Castro. Besides the robbery charge, Castro faces charges of resisting arrest, bail jumping, grand larceny and possession of stolen property, the paper said.
A third man, Brandon Isom, is also accused of hitting an officer during Castro’s arrest. Isom, 25, is charged with assault on a police officer and obstructing governmental administration, the Daily News said.