KEY POINTS

  • New York City police officer Vincent D'Andraia turned himself in on Tuesday and was formally charged by the Brooklyn borough's district attorney's office
  • D'Andraia shoving protester Dounya Zayer to the ground was one of several shared altercations on social media amid the George Floyd protests
  • The union representing D'Andraia pushed back on the charges, saying it was a politically motivated move against the police

The district attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, said Tuesday it was formally pressing charges against the police officer caught on video pushing a female protester to the ground.

The officer, identified as Vincent D'Andraia, 28, turned himself in on Tuesday for shoving and cursing at the protester, identified as Dounya Zayer, during the Black Lives Matter protests in New York City against police brutality. D’Andraia is being charged with assault, criminal mischief, harassment, and menacing for the altercation.

D’Andraia is the first New York City police officer formally charged for instances of police brutality seen on social media during the first week of protests.

“As District Attorney I cannot tolerate the use of excessive force against anyone exercising this Constitutionally guaranteed right,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “This is especially true of those who are sworn to protect us and uphold the law. I am deeply troubled by this unnecessary assault. We will now seek to hold this defendant accountable.”

Prosecutors said Zayer was walking away when D’Andraia confronted her in the street and told her to move. He allegedly “smacked away” Zayer’s phone when she asked why before shoving her to the ground, as seen in the video.

The New York Post cited a police source who said Zayer instigated the altercation.

“That girl is all over the internet. That’s what she does — she gets in people’s faces to get a rise out of them. Look at her YouTube,” the source said. “If you really watch the video, she faked it and she rolled.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association union, also criticized the charges and said they were politically motivated.

“Once again, Mayor (Bill) de Blasio and the NYPD brass are sacrificing cops to save their own skin,” Lynch said in a statement. “They created the failed strategy for managing these demonstrations. They sent police officers out to do the job with no support and no clear plan. We are utterly alone in our efforts to protect our city.”