Charges dropped against Sunset Park teen after videos show cops lied

Innocent: Prosecutors are dropping charges against 17-year-old Sunset Parker Enrique Del Rosario after police and the district attorney’s office dragged him through 10 months of court on trumped-up charges that he attacked a police officer.
The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Another Sunset Park resident is vindicated after prosecutors dropped charges that video of the incident proved were trumped-up.

Prosecutors dismissed charges that 17-year-old Enrique Del Rosario assaulted a police officer on June 8. Cops pinched Del Rosario last summer as he filmed them arresting revelers during Puerto Rican Day festivities on Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park. They beat Del Rosario and then tried to make him look like the aggressor, his lawyer said.

“Basically, my client was a victim of a gang assault by the 72nd Precinct,” said attorney Rebecca Heinegg. “Five officers slammed him against the gate of a closed store. Batons came down on his head.”

During the melee, one officer accidentally hit another cop with a baton, but when prosecutors brought charges against Del Rosario, they claimed he had done the damage, said Dennis Flores, head of police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park.

Video evidence shot at multiple angles contradicts prosecutors’ claim, according to Heinegg and Flores. One video shot at the scene shows a high-ranking officer tell the person filming that doing so is illegal. It is not.

The clips show a tense scene involving activists and bystanders shouting and chanting, “We’re moving!” as police make arrests and shove back the crowd, sometimes smacking at cameras and striking people with batons.

A grand jury convened in September decided not to indict Del Rosa for assaulting cops, Heinegg said. The youth also faced charges of resisting arrest and larceny, court records show. Prosecutors offered to drop the remaining charges against Del Rosario — and two unrelated low-level misdemeanors — if he stays out of trouble for the next six months.

The District Attorney’s Office offered the deal to avoid a trial and prevent the defense from introducing embarrassing video evidence showing police malfeasance, Heinegg said.

“This is a common way for the DA to get out of cases they don’t want to go to trial,” she said.

Del Rosario wanted to bring the case before a jury, but the assistant district attorneys’ offer to drop unrelated cases was hard to pass up, Heinegg said.

“This is as close to an outright dismissal that the ADA is willing to concede,” Heinegg said.

Del Rosario’s mother said coming to her son’s eight court dates over the last 10 months has itself been a trial, because she knew her son was innocent the whole time.

“He’s coming to court every month with no verdict,” mother Wendy Tabarez said. “I don’t know why [the judge] doesn’t do anything.”

Court proceedings forced his mother to take days off from her job to accompany him to court, something that has cost her time off and pay, she said.

The case is the latest in a series involving videos exposing the 72nd Precinct’s apparently heavy-handed tactics.

Activists’ video evidence recently helped exculpate another Sunset Park resident whom police charged with assault in a separate incident.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
It's understandable why cops don't want to be filmed. Cops are lawless thugs and filming them shows us that we are mistaken to respect them.

I bet this is going to hurt their morale :(
March 5, 2015, 8:35 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
All I can say is I hope they fire that cop and the kid gets his pensions worth.
March 5, 2015, 8:55 am
jjm from c. hill says:
all i can say is BIG A** LAWSUIT.
March 5, 2015, 10:25 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Fire "that" cop, bkmanhatman? There are many many awful cops in this article. All of the attackers should be fired. All cops who witnessed the attack and failed to arrest the attacking cops should be put on leave since they aren't willing to do their jobs. The entire 72nd Precinct should apologize to the city of the New York. I would say they should apologize to "good cops" everywhere, but there is no such thing.
March 5, 2015, 11:16 am
Ian from Greenwood Heights says:
Those that can, do.
Those that can't become cops.
March 5, 2015, 12:36 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
If police became liable for the crimes they frame others for, police abuse would quickly become a thing of the past. If they frame another for a death-penalty case, and it comes out, then they should themselves face the death penalty. If they don't, then there is no real guarantee that they won't continue to railroad innocent people. We all have now seen, in explicit detail, how corrupt, inept, and deficient American police are. Put them in jail. Put them in jail now, or liberty does not exist.
March 5, 2015, 12:46 pm
Elaine Hardy from Kerrville Texas says:
These days, cops are nothing more than THUGS with a gun and a badge.

They LIE, even if the truth is better.

They STEAL from the public and they RUIN LIVES.

And prosecuting attorneys ALLOW them to run roughshod over the citizenry! They allow it, they ENCOURAGE it, and they SUPPORT it in courts of law.

All the while, cops PROTECT only each other, and they SERVE only themselves and each other.

ORGANIZED CRIME IN UNIFORM, that's all they are.
March 6, 2015, 12:16 pm
Billy Ray from Alabama says:
When these incidents happen, why are the cops never charged with PERJURY?
March 6, 2015, 3:37 pm
Flying K from The 504 says:
Good luck ever getting me to believe what a cop says on the witness stand! Remember what you see and remember well the next time you serve on a jury!
March 6, 2015, 6:02 pm
exsunsetparkresident from brooklyn says:
the 72nd Precinct is a joke and anything west of 5th ave in sunset park is ghetto as —— (with a few blocks as exceptions). I lived off 4th ave and had to call cops numerous times about gangfights, gunshots, and other crimes happening literally outside my window, only for them to show up way later and then shrug their shoulders. The only good cops from that precinct were the ones who were straight up honest and told us we should move out of the neighborhood because its infested with drugs and gangs. Either get out of west gunset or move somewhere with better residents AND better cops!
March 6, 2015, 6:42 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
There are more than just a few lovely streets west of Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park.
March 7, 2015, 3:07 pm
Guest from NYC says:
The police in this city disgust me.
March 8, 2015, 9:09 pm
Andy Gnonimis from Aniton says:
If video directly contradicts the kids claim, show the video in its entirety and post a full copy of the police report and court transcript. No? Didn't think so. Take the parts u want to prove YOUR point, and dump the rest, right?
March 10, 2015, 11:16 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: