The suspension of officer Ronnie Velez, of the Critical Response Command, wasn’t for violence, however — it was for failing to identify himself to responding officers.
The incident unfolded on Sunday evening as Elliot Ambert, 30, and his friend Ray Cordero left a restaurant. Ambert ended up in a verbal exchange with one of Velez’s friends outside, but the two were quickly separated by security.
As Ambert and Cordero left the scene, they claim that someone came up and attacked them. Codero told the New York Daily News that he and Velez began fighting after the off-duty cop punched him in the head.
Velez is seen in the video wearing blue shorts and a black T-shirt.
Seconds later, Ambert was dragged away and violently beaten by two of Velez’s friends. Codero was restrained by Velez and another man, who he claims flashed a police badge at him. Codero said that he later learned that the man was the son of a police sergeant. No one involved was charged with impersonating an officer.
“I wasn’t going to hit a cop,” Cordero said. “I started to back up.”
Cordero says that Velez never identified himself as a police officer, and that the former only learned of the latter’s employment later, from Internal Affairs investigators.
“He never identified himself as a police officer to me,” Cordero told the New York Daily News. “I don’t understand how you can be an officer of the law and still let that happen.”
The beating was so severe that Ambert’s face was fractured in three places, including his eye socket, and he has bleeding on his brain.
“He doesn’t remember much ‘cause literally he received so much head trauma,” Cordero said. “His face is pretty bad.”
Three of Velez’s friends who were involved in the scuffle have been charged with felony assault on Ambert: Koran, Jeremy Gonzalez, 27, and Michael Batista, 21.
Kamar Forester, 28, is also charged with felony assault for allegedly stabbing Koran.
It remains unclear whether either of the officers involved will face charges.