Source New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Seven people have been indicted in connection to the Times Square melee between a group of migrants and NYPD officers, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a joint press conference Thursday with the mayor and police officials.
The felony indictment unsealed in Manhattan Supreme Court, handed up by a grand jury on Wednesday, charged four asylum-seekers arrested in the wake of the Jan. 27 brawl — Darwin Andres Gomez-Izquiel, Kelvin Servita Arocha, Yorman Reveron and Yoherny Brito — with second-degree assault and obstructing governmental administration.
A fifth migrant, Wilson Juarez, was charged with tampering with physical evidence and two counts of third-degree hindering prosecution.
Brito, 24, who’s being held on Rikers Island, was additionally charged with tampering with physical evidence and one count of hindering prosecution. Before the indictments were announced Thursday, Brito had been the only suspect charged by a grand jury in the case.
Two of the suspects included in the indictment were not identified by name.
Bragg says the seven people under indictment are among 11 people involved in caught-on-video confrontation outside a migrant shelter in Times Square, on W. 42nd St. near Seventh Avenue. That number is down from earlier law enforcement statements that 14 people were believed involved in the incident.
One of the 11 people allegedly involved is 22-year-old Jhoan Boada, who has been charged by prosecutors but has not been indicted by a grand jury.
Several of the 11 people involved are at large, their whereabouts unknown, authorities say. Among those are two men in the indictment announced Thursday whose names are under seal and three who are unidentified and unindicted.
One of the two men involved in the fight not identified in the indictment was taken into custody after the melee and later released. That suspect allegedly kicked and grabbed one of the officers’ legs.
The other unnamed man in the indictment, who is accused of grabbing an officer, was seen in surveillance footage wearing a jacket Juarez had on when police arrested him later that night, according to court docs.
Bragg said the indictments came after a “painstaking” joint investigation between his office and the NYPD. Prosecutors allege that several suspects changed their clothes after the altercation, making them harder to track down.
Citing a flood of misinformation spreading about the case, Bragg walked reporters through surveillance footage frame-by-frame and refuted claims that federal authorities had arrested four suspects out of state.
Bragg said the Department of Homeland Security notified his office on Tuesday that the people mentioned in news reports as having been arrested in the case in fact had nothing to do with the Times Square incident, and there is otherwise no indication the feds have intercepted anyone involved.
“The level of review was meticulous because it must be,” Bragg said. “The only thing worse than failing to bring perpetrators to justice would be to ensnare innocent people in the criminal justice system.”
The DA and NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said the Jan. 27 fracas came about when two cops told the group to move away from the shelter.
The officers grabbed Brito when he refused their instructions and pushed him against the building. Brito allegedly put up a fight when he was knocked to the sidewalk.
Gomez-Izquiel allegedly then grabbed one of the cops and kicked another one time; Reveron allegedly grabbed, pulled and threw the two officers to the ground.
Juarez and Arocha didn’t assault either officer, according to court documents — Arocha is accused of kicking one of the cop’s radios, and Juarez allegedly watched from the sidelines and gave Brito his FILA jacket as a disguise. Neither of the officers assaulted was seriously injured.
Cops arrested Gomez-Izquiel, Reveron, Juarez and Arocha the night of the incident, and all were released under supervision after their arraignments. Brito fled and was arrested by cops on Jan. 31 and has been held at Rikers since Feb. 1 on $15,000 bail.
Prosecutors dropped charges against a 21-year-old initially charged with felony assault, saying they no longer believed he was involved.
The DA came under fire from police unions and right-wing groups when his assistant prosecutors declined to seek bail for all of the initial suspects charged except Brito. Some Republicans and right-leaning elected officials called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to remove Bragg from office and for the suspects to be deported.
As Bragg announced the new indictments Wednesday afternoon, a small group of protesters gathered outside waving Trump flags and signs with messages like “Bragg is putting our NYPD in danger” and “All Globalist Puppets have to go.”
Mayor Eric Adams praised Bragg and the Police Department’s “sophisticated” handling of the case. He urged New Yorkers to respect the process and be pleased that authorities don’t endorse vigilantism like Curtis Sliwa but “proper investigation.”
“Throughout the weekend and week, the district attorney kept the NYPD up to date, we communicated several times, and he was clear on the complexity of apprehending the individuals involved, and he wanted to get it right,” the mayor said.
“We are going to pursue anyone that commits a crime — if they are longstanding New Yorkers or if they are new arrivals — and that’s what we’re doing, but in no way should we give any indicator that the overwhelming number of migrants and asylum seekers are (not) law-abiding and … pursuing the American Dream.”
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