Two brothers are being charged for allegedly strangling an off duty police officer, and for trying to wrestle a gun away after a road rage incident in Queens last week.
The brothers, Woodside residents, Shawn Rivera, 27 and Edwin Rivera, 32, are being held in Rikers and plead not-guilty. Their lawyer, Lance Lazzaro said the officer never showed his badge during the incident.
The DA disputes this version of the events.
“We will not allow our streets to devolve into the Wild West,” District Attorney Melinda Katz wrote in a statement. “The rule of law and the officers who enforce it must be respected. After clearly identifying himself as a police officer, this off-duty cop was attacked while trying to make an arrest and the charges reflect the seriousness of the assault against him.”
Lazzaro called this statement inappropriate and blamed the officer for escalating the situation.
“The complaint is a violation of my clients due process rights, they’ve accepted the representation of an off duty officer who created this situation. He brought the weapon into the equation that was never called for. And ended up taking, at worst, a misdemeanor case and now bringing it to another level, when he easily could’ve prevented the situation.”
The incident began with a traffic argument last week. The DA says officer Christopher Campos passed a minivan that was partially parked on the sidewalk and blocking the street.. Seconds later the minivan sped up, nearly hitting Campos’ vehicle, according to the complaint.
Shawn Rivera then allegedly smashed the glass of Campos’ rear window.
The DA says the officer drew his gun and identified himself. He reportedly put the gun away as the three men got into a fight. But while they were struggling, the gun fired twice, according to NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey.
Video of the incident shows the officer grab one of the brothers by the shirt and attempt to hold him, before the three wrestle to the ground.
The officer and one of the brothers were hit with a bullet, but it was a minor injury.
The brothers face a rack of charges over the incident including first degree assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and strangulation. Shawn Rivera was also charged with criminal mischief.
“That officer should have been arrested, and they should have called for a special prosecutor,” lawyer Lazzaro said. “Police are playing games and protecting their own.”
If convicted, the brothers face up to 25 years in prison.