Alleged Insult under NYPD Probe, Says Polish Paper

Capt. Christopher Manson, of the 104th Precinct. (Photo by Wojtek Maslanka via Nowy Dziennik)

Captain Christopher Manson of the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood, Queens. (Photo by Wojtek Maslanka via Nowy Dziennik)

[The following is a condensation of four articles which recently ran in Nowy Dziennik concerning an attack March 30 on two Polish-American brothers, and its aftermath, including a derogatory remark about Polish people allegedly made by police officers. The Polish Consulate General intervened to obtain more information, and told Nowy Dziennik that it was informed by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau that an investigation is underway.]

Two young Polish Americans were badly beaten by a group of youths in Maspeth, New York in the early hours of March 30. They were walking by a bus stop at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Eliot Avenue when they were attacked.

“My friends and I had just got off a bus coming back from Atlantic City and were waiting near the 24/7 convenience store for our husbands who were on another bus. We saw what happened. The two young Poles were badly beaten by a group of hooligans, who had been bothering us before,” said Mira, one of the women who sought shelter at the store after the group of young men had approached them. The store clerks let them in and held the door locked until the police arrived.

“It was a horrible scene. The attackers used tear gas, I guess, to knock the two Poles down, then kicked them on the head and elsewhere. One victim’s face was completely battered,” the witnesses say.

The NYPD officers from the 104th precinct in Ridgewood arrived at the crime scene after the assault, when most of the attackers had fled. Also gone were the two victims. Two of the attackers who remained on the scene told the police officers that they had been assaulted by a large group of Polish Americans. The witnesses say they tried to explain to the officers what had really happened, but reportedly the policemen had no intention of listening to their account.

“I said it had been a large group of Italian-speaking hooligans that attacked the two Polish-American passersby, but they wouldn’t listen to me. The officers tried to hush me twice telling me to be quiet. ‘Shut up. This is a problem with f…g. Polish people‘ I heard them say a couple of times,” said Mira, who was shaken by the attitude of the NYPD officers.

The two Polish Americans – brothers Kamil, 24, and Pawel, 25 (they declined to have their last name disclosed) – made it home, despite major injuries which would have been life threatening if it hadn’t been for the fast reaction of their father, who called the ambulance. His sons were taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center for immediate medical help.

The street corner in Maspeth where the assault on two brothers reportedly took place.  (Photo by Wojtek Maslanka via Nowy Dziennik)

The street corner in Maspeth where the assault on two brothers reportedly took place. (Photo by Wojtek Maslanka via Nowy Dziennik)

The younger of the brothers, Kamil, required more than 40 stitches on his face and head. He had bruises all over his body and a torn tendon in the right shoulder. “I remember that the attackers, I think there were 12 of them, smashed some eight beer bottles on my head,” Kamil said. His older brother Pawel spent a couple of days in the hospital. Besides bruises all over his body and black eyes, his jaw bone was broken and dislocated. In order to put his jaw bone in place doctors had to use special wire and platinum clips, and remove four of his teeth.

“I have trouble speaking and eating, because of the wires, and I am in a lot of pain when I try to move my jaw,” said Pawel when he met with the Nowy Dziennik reporter a week after the assault.

The brothers’ account of the incident coincides with the witnesses’ version of the story. “We were walking home from Ridgewood. Near that convenience store, where we often shop, as it is close to where we live, there were about eight young guys. One of them talked to us and wanted us to give him a five. When I turned around, three other guys attacked me with bottles from the side. That’s when I had some eight bottles smashed on my head,” Kamil said.

Then, the young brothers say, a couple more men came out of the store, making it a group of some 12 attackers.

“It was hard to defend yourself against such a big group. Three guys were holding my brother who was lying on the ground and the fourth one was kicking him on the head,” Kamil, the younger brother said, with his face still covered in fresh cuts.

Kamil, who was released from the hospital the next day in the afternoon, went straight to the 104th precinct in Ridgewood to file a report. However, according to him, the detectives refused to hear his side of the story. The detective who went to the hospital to talk to Kamil’s older brother also maintained that he was the guilty party in the incident.

It wasn’t until the “Nowy Dziennik” story and questions filed by the reporter that the police officers listened to Kamil’s side of the story on April 2.

As a result of the second report, the police arrested one of the attackers, but refused to share details of the investigation.

Questions about the assault on the two brothers were raised at the April 29 meeting of the police and the community. Capt. Christopher Manson was visibly irritated when a Ridgewood resident inquired into the incident. Manson assured that a thorough investigation into the assault case was in progress, but added that he had no reason to start an investigation of the alleged insults (“This is a problem with f…..g Polish people”) spoken by NYPD officers and directed towards the victims, as he hadn’t received a formal complaint. He also assured that in his 15-month career as captain of the 104th precinct he had never had a problem with his subordinates exhibiting racist behavior.

When the consul general of the Republic of Poland in New York, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, read a Nowy Dziennik article about Manson’s response at the community meeting, she protested.

As it turns out, Polish diplomats have sent the NYPD a written request for an explanation in the alleged assault case on the two Polish brothers immediately after reading the April 8 Nowy Dziennik article about the assault.

“As a result of a written intervention by the Consulate General of Poland in New York, which was directed to the NYPD on April 10, the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau has launched an investigation into whether NYPD officers acted inappropriately in the case involving the two Polish Americans,” the Polish Consulate wrote in an email sent to Nowy Dziennik.

“We were verbally assured by the Internal Affairs Bureau that the investigation was in progress,” said the head of the consulate’s legal department, Consul Agnieszka Torres de Oliveira.

On May 8, after reading another Nowy Dziennik article about the NYPD community meeting in Ridgewood, the Polish Consulate faxed a letter to the 104th precinct asking for verification of the captain’s comment. The first fax was followed by another one after the 104th precinct said it hadn’t received the initial inquiry.

Nowy Dziennik hasn’t been able yet to determine whether at the April 29 community meeting Manson was unaware of the consulate’s inquiries and the internal investigation launched by the Internal Affairs Bureau.

Meanwhile, the beaten brothers have met with a lawyer and are planning to take the assault case to court.

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