Manhattan DA announces new indictments in Times Square brawl between police and migrants
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg announced six additional indictments of men allegedly involved in a brawl with police officers in Times Square, but he said investigators were still working to identify several suspects and their exact role in the frenzy.
Bragg has faced growing pressure and political backlash following the release of video showing several migrants kicking police officers on a sidewalk and prying them off a man that they were trying to arrest.
In a news conference Thursday, Bragg said his office had secured grand jury indictments for a total of seven suspects in the “heinous attack,” including two people who have not yet been arrested.
At the same time, he acknowledged that some of the men initially charged with assaulting police in the Jan. 27 incident had played only a minor role in the melee.
“We have to ensure we identify and charge those individuals who actually committed criminal acts in this matter,” Bragg said. “The only thing worse than failing to bring perpetrators to justice would be to ensnare innocent people in the criminal justice system.”
One person previously charged with assaulting police officers, 21-year-old Wilson Juarez, is now believed to have watched the brawl from a distance without participating. He has since been charged with tampering with physical evidence, prosecutors said, because he allegedly traded his jacket with a man who fled police following the confrontation.
Another person widely reported to have participated in the beating, Kelvin Servita Arocha, 19, did not physically touch either of the officers, but he allegedly kicked a police radio — making him an “accessory” to the assault, according to Bragg.
A third person who earned headlines for flipping off cameras following his arraignment has yet to be indicted by a grand jury, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's office said, because prosecutors were still working to confirm whether he actually participated in the assault.
Police said there were at least five additional suspects they were looking to speak with based on an investigation that included a review of body-camera footage. The man allegedly at the center of the conflict, Yohenry Brito, 24, was indicted on charges including two counts of assault by a grand jury on Tuesday and is being held on Rikers Island.
According to NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny, the altercation began after a pair of police officers ordered a group of men to disperse from a sidewalk in front of a midtown Manhattan shelter. After Brito “got confrontational with the officers,” police attempted to arrest him, leading to the scuffle, Kenny said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has linked the incident to what he described Thursday as an “apparent crime wave” driven by the city's migrant population. He has said that only a “small minority” of new arrivals were participating in illegal behavior, but he has faced allegations of weaponizing the Times Square incident for political gain.
“The mayor has used this awful incident to score cheap political points at a moment when his approval ratings are really low,” said Ana María Archila, co-director of the New York Working Families Party. “He has vilified immigrants and created a political environment that enables vigilante violence.”
Police and city officials have not provided data to back up the claim of a "crime wave." Most categories of crime are down since a surge of migrant arrivals began 18 months ago.
Earlier this week, members of the Guardian Angels were seen roughing up a man in Times Square during a live television interview on Fox News. The group's founder, Curtis Sliwa, falsely identified the man as a “migrant.”
On Thursday, Bragg said his office was investigating what he described as the “disturbing” incident.